The Bear would like to revisit a couple of points on the recent death penalty discussion.
The Bible is held by the Catholic Church to be inerrant. However, the Church has formally defined only a handful of passages. It would be wrong to take the approach that "since the Church says the Bible is inerrant, everything in it is true in some particular way." It must be interpreted as a whole, and in light of the Church's teachings. Just because the Old Testament commands the death penalty (for homosexuals, as an example) doesn't mean we must execute homosexuals in our day.
While we must admit that the Bible has required capital punishment, we do not interpret these passages in a vacuum, as do Protestants. By the same token, we do have to acknowledge that the Bible is no more unfavorable to capital punishment than it is to slavery.
The Church has condoned and committed many acts in its history that we would probably not wish to revisit, not because there are clear theological reasons against them, but, well, it is considered prudent and merciful not to. Prudent, because nowadays we have other options, such as long-term imprisonment, and are more careful of accidentally offing the wrong guy. (Plus, being one of the few countries that still executes people puts us in a small and rather unsavory club.) Merciful, because mercy is a large part of Christianity, and it may be best expressed with those who least deserve it.
The Bear does not believe anyone will find a dogma from pope or council saying Catholics must believe in the death penalty, de fide.
By the same token, it is just an argument. The Bear would not say the Church requires you to be against the death penalty. The Bear believes there are all sorts of good arguments against the death penalty. However, one of them isn't the Church forbids it. Indeed, it was an enthusiastic practitioner in the days of the Papal States, as the Bear believes he conceded.
So let's just say the Bear finds a convergence between some of the better arguments the Church offers and his own uncommon experience as a death penalty defense lawyer.
There is one argument the Bear thinks is a strong one for the death penalty. If a person knows the day he is going to meet his Maker, there is an immediate incentive to come to terms with God. (It may, perhaps, prove too much, however!)
How is this different from the arguments in favor of homosexuality? Homosexuality has never been approved, and has always been condemned. The death penalty is not a part of bedrock sexual morality that cannot change. The death penalty is a policy, and can be changed without sin. It is, moreover, consistent with Christ's teaching on mercy.
So, while the Bear would not argue the Church requires you to be against the death penalty, it is currently making good arguments that might appeal to your sense of prudence or mercy.
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