Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

What about "pro-death penalty" legislators?  

Posted by Christopher Blosser at 7:19 PM

FoxNews has posted the transcript of Hannity & Colmes' interview with Marc Balestrieri (thanks to Catholic Light for the tip).

BALESTRIERI: [...] There are other pro-choice Catholic politicians. But unlike any of the other ones, Senator Kerry has gone out of his way to make this an issue against the teaching of the church, in violation of the Vatican's directives and he is using Catholics to...

COLMES: Well, it sounds like you're making it an issue. I'm just wondering, will you -- should you also go after Catholic legislators who are for the death penalty?

BALESTRIERI: Those who are for the death penalty must apply the strict criteria of the Catholic Church, deciding whether or not there's absolutely no other way to protect the community apart from executing the criminal.

COLMES: But why single out John Kerry? There are many legislators who are pro-death penalty, and that's not what the church talks about.

There are many other legislators who agree with John Kerry on the issue of abortion who also happen to be in office. Maybe they're not running for president. So it's clear to me that you're singling out John Kerry because of politics?

BALESTRIERI: Alan, I think it's -- I think it's difficult if you're not a Catholic to understand the exact difference between abortion, which is a heresy, and capital punishment, which is not always the case.

Abortion is an intrinsically evil act. It can never be performed if it's direct and voluntary. Whereas capital punishment is only extrinsically evil, and under certain strict circumstances, it can be permitted. There's a great difference there.

The (mistaken) equasion of the Church's condemnation of abortion and capital punishment has been raised countless times, often with the intent of diverting attention away from the chief issue at hand: the legislator's stance on abortion and the absolute condemnation of the Church. Colmes (the token liberal voice of the Fox News' tag team) mentioned "pro-death penalty" legislators twice, and Mr. Balestriery displayed great patience in correcting him in the brief time that was allotted to him on air.

The errors contained in such an equasion have been addressed by my co-editors in the past, but for those who persist (and I anticipate there will be plenty after Colmes) let's go over this one more time:

The morality of capital punishment involves the question of justice and legitimate defense of society -- namely, whether execution of an "unjust agressor" may be employed in defense of the common good. On this issue the Catechism [2263-2267] teaches:

". . . the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."
Now is not the time (nor is this blog the place) for an extended discussion of the death penalty. Those who wish to do so can peruse the extensive list of articles here, beginning with Cardinal Dulle's "Catholicism and Capital Punishment" First Things 112 (April 2001): 30-35).

It is sufficent here to remember that the Church's condemnation of capital punishment is, for the above reasons, conditional, it's condemnation of abortion absolute. Catholic Tradition has always defended the "inviolable right of every innocent being to life", and "affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion." Likewise, it has always condemned direct euthanasia: the deliberate killing of those who are sick, handicapped, or otherwise deemed "not suitable for life," and found such acts morally unacceptable.

Consequently, the Church distinguishes between -- and does not equate -- its condemnation of abortion/euthanasia and its criticism of capital punishment as a form of defense.

Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch

Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.


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Contributing Editors:

Oswald Sobrino of
Catholic Analysis

Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

Jeff Miller of
The Curt Jester

Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
Against The Grain

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Ad Limina Apostolorum
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Catholics for Bush [Blog]
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Defensor Fidei (Jimmy Akin)
Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.
The Galvin Opinion
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News Resources

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Kerry Communion Watch @

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?




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Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.

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