2 September 2023
IS the Magisterium in crisis?
Here is an old post; I have chopped off a section on Humanae Vitae
The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to Capital Punishment, if that is the only possible effective way of defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.
Doctrine develops, evolves, is nuanced. But it must always be eodem sensu eademque sententia.
So, under S John Paul II, the Magisterium, after reiterating the traditional teaching, went on to teach us (CCC 2267 citing Evangelium vitae 56) that in our time, given the resources at the State's disposal, such occasions are rare, even very probably non-existent.
How can anyone find fault with that prudential judgement? Most certainly not I. All power to that Great and Holy Pontiff's elbow.
Recently, however, we have been told that Capital punishment is "inadmissable, no matter how serious the crime committed", and "an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person"; that "Thou shalt not kill has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty"; and that "even a criminal has the inviolable right to life". "Absolute", mark you. And "Inviolable".
I do not see how all this is eodem sensu as the Traditional teaching. I do not see how it is a development eadem sententia from CCC 2267. It is a novel theologoumenon which in fact contradicts the Tradition.
I view Capital Punishment with quite as much personal revulsion as the Holy Father does. When I read about the Death Rows and the botched executions in a handful of North American states; about the gentle delicacy with which the Chinese shoot their convicts so as not to damage organs which can be profitably 'harvested'; I feel both very angry and uncomfortably sick. But his and my revulsion is not the point.
Perhaps one should make allowances for the fact that Jorge Bergoglio spent his middle years in a barbarous land in which thousands were 'disappeared' and many more tortured under a murderous and corrupt military dictatorship (to the downfall of which my own country may have made some small contribution).
But when every allowance is made, the Magisterium is not an arena in which the Sovereign Pontiff is entitled to attach the prestige of his office to some personal enthusiasm.
Let me conclude by sharing with you my very own daring view about all this stuff.
I do not, I am afraid, believe that the Holy Spirit was given to Pope Francis, or to any other pope, so that by His revelation they can put out some new doctrine, but so that (with the Holy Spirit's help) they can guard and set forth the Tradition handed down through the Apostles ... what we call the Deposit of Faith.
Does this bold admission put me beyond the pale?