Author: Matthew Shadle

The Existential Journey of Holiness: Pope Francis’s Gaudete et Exsultate

While reading Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, on the call to holiness in today’s world, I was reminded of a contrast drawn by the influential moral theologian Germain Grisez in the first volume of his magnum opus The Way of the Lord Jesus. Grisez outlines two views of moral goodness that have deeply influenced the Catholic tradition. First, Grisez describes what he calls the “scholastic natural-law theory,” which explains moral goodness in terms of conformity to the pattern of human nature. In this view, as Grisez explains, “actions are seen either to conform or not conform...

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The Death Penalty and the Development of Doctrine, Part II

In yesterday’s post I considered two arguments for how the Catholic Church could introduce an absolute prohibition on the death penalty into its teaching while remaining consistent with earlier teaching that the state is authorized to use the death penalty if necessary for the defense of the public: 1) although states have a hypothetical right to carry out the death penalty in defense of the public, the death penalty as it is currently practiced is intrinsically evil; and 2) the death penalty must be linguistically distinguished from the defense of the public by the state. These reflections were occasioned...

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The Death Penalty and the Development of Doctrine, Part I

In an October address to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of Catholic Church, Pope Francis raised the possibility that the Catechism be revised to provide a more absolute prohibition against the death penalty. Francis argues that the death penalty is “deeply injurious of human dignity.” He goes so far as to say that it “is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true...

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