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Monday, June 25, 2007



Any thoughts? - Nope, you covered it.

This is part of the new menu of the liberals' game-plan. They knew the religious vote was one of their prime weak points and now they are seeking to siphon off votes from 'religious voters.' All they need are a couple million extra votes all around and they are home free.

It is ironic that the liberals - Obama et al - want to keep political discourse out of long as it is a 'conservative' Christian/Catholic church. This obviously does not apply (as always) to liberal churches sympathetic to the liberal drumbeat.

Solid reply Thomistic.


This is the best post I have read lately, which is saying something since the blogs I frequent are excellent. I hope and pray that this country will see thru their hype and propaganda. All Catholics should read and heed this post. Great work and greater words.


Very well written, although I am not entirely convinced that "Thou Shalt Not Kill" meant (only) thou shalt not murder. I never thought Saddam ever posed an imminent threat, so I'm not convinced the war was justified. I'd rather err on the side of caution here, and any deviation from the exact wording of the commandment lends itself to any number of interpretations. Please let me know if my thinking is misguided.



Thank you for the compliment.

Check out this footnote from concerning the Fifth Commandment:

The Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate (the official Scripture of the Church), and the original Douay-Reims phrase the Fifth Word as "Thou shalt not murder"; later Douay-Reims versions, such as the Challoner, and the King James Bible, etc., phrase it as "Thou shalt not kill." "Thou shalt not murder," however, is the original intent and the meaning of the earliest texts. Catholics, of course, have 2,000 years of Church teaching and the Magisterium to interpret Scripture, and the meaning of the Fifth Commandment is that one is not to take innocent life. It doesn't entail pacifism, ignoring the needs of self-defense and justice, worrying about squashing bugs, etc.

To be clear on what I mean by murder, Father John Hardon, S.J. defines murder in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary as follows:

The unjust killing of an innocent person. Directly to intend killing an innocent person is forbidden either to a private citizen or to the State, and this even in order to secure the common good. God has supreme and exclusive ownership over human lives, and so he is the only one who has the right to allow the taking of a human life. He confers on civil authority the right to take the life of a condemned criminal only when this is necessary for achieving the just purposes of the State. In a commentary passage on the Decalogue, divine revelation commands: "See that the man who is innocent and just is not done to death, and do not acquit the guilty" (Exodus 23:7).

The information provided below on the original language of the texts in Sacred Scripture dealing with killing was amended from here: God Never Said, "Thou Shalt Not Kill". In so far as the differences between my corrected version (below) and the linked source from which it is derived, I corrected some parts where the Theology seemed a bit muddled (the author's definite religious beliefs are unclear from the article), and changed the style of writing in certain parts, but I can't take credit for the ideas presented, although I feel comfortable saying that I support what is presented in my corrected version as being acceptable for belief. The bits about what is said in Sacred Scripture and the language of the original texts appear to be accurate, so far as I can tell.

Some Christians have been led to believe that Scripture forbids the taking of any life under any circumstance; even in the form of capital punishment, protection of or defense of a nation, and self-defense.

If this were the case, why would God tell Israel “Thou shalt not kill”, yet then turn around and tell then to kill their enemies? This would seem to be a glaring contradiction, would it not? Unless, God never said “Thou shalt not kill”.

Even though modern translations of the Bible may actually use the word “kill” in several places, is this what the original Hebrew and Greek texts actually say?

The Fifth Commandment

In Exodus 20:13 we have the Fifth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”. Take a good look at that word “kill”. In the Hebrew manuscript the word is “ratsach” which means: murder; i.e. - to murder, a murderer; to dash to pieces. Thus, Exodus 20:13 actually reads: “Thou shalt not murder”.

Next, look to Exodus 21:12 “He that smiteth a man so that he die, shall be surely put to death”. Here, the Hebrew word translated ‘smiteth’ is “nakah”, which means: murder, to slay, to make slaughter. Thus, Exodus 21:12 actually reads “He that murders a man so that he die, shall be surely put to death”.

Next, look to Exodus 21:14 “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die”. The Hebrew word translated ‘slay’ here is “harag”, which means: to smite with deadly intent; to murder. The Hebrew word translated ‘guile’ here is “ormah”, which means: trickery, craftiness; deceitful strategy.

So Exodus 21:14 actually says: “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to murder him with a deceitful strategy; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die”.

Now move over to Deuteronomy 19:11, 12: “But if any man hate his neighbor, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and flee into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die”. Again, the Hebrew word translated ‘smite’ here is “nakah”, which means: murder, to slay, to make slaughter. But what is this ‘avenger of blood’? The Hebrew word translated ‘avenger’ here is “ga'al”, which means: to redeem (according to the ancient law of kinship) the next of kin, kinsfolk; to redeem blood for blood: i.e. - revenge - the kinsman redeemer. So, the murderer was to be put to death by the nearest of kin. But what if the death was an accident? Deuteronomy 19:2 thru 6 tells what to do with those who kill by mistake; by accident. They were to be moved away to a far off city, thereby giving the relatives of the one accidentally killed time to cool off, and to not seek revenge.

Thus you will see again and again, when the Old Testament speaks of kill, it many times actually says ‘murder”, and that the murderers were to be put to death; by the kinsman redeemer! But what about the New Testament?

The Word ‘Kill’ in the New Testament

First, let’s look to Matthew 5. In verses 17 and 18, Jesus says “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”. In other words, until eternity begins, not even the smallest punctuation mark changes in the law! What law? The Ten Commandments and the moral law of the Old Testament!

Next, in Matthew 5:21 Jesus says “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, “Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment”. Once again, we have translation problems. The Greek word translated ‘kill’ here is “phoneuo”, which means: To be a murderer, to murder - 'phoneuo' a form of 'phoneus' which means: a murderer; always a criminal or at least intentional homicide. The Greek word translated ‘judgment’ here is “krisis”, which means: (when referring to the Divine law) damnation, condemnation; justice – tribunal. Thus, Matthew 5:21 actually reads “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not murder; and whosoever shall murder shall be in danger of eternal damnation”. In other words, no murderer can have eternal life abiding in him (unless such a person turns and repents).

Why is murder so serious a crime? Murder involves not only murdering an individual person, but any children the person might have had, thus destroying a whole lineage; not just one person.

Lastly look to 1 John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no Murderer hath eternal life abiding in him”. This word ‘hateth’ actually means: to persecute to the death. Thus, 1 John 3:15 actually reads “Whosoever persecutes another to their death (as St. Stephen was) is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him”.

So, murder, not killing, is forbidden by Sacred Scripture.

More on the Fifth Commandment here:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Fifth Commandment

The Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 64: Murder

The Legitimacy of Capital Punishment by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Moral Theology Chapter IV: Life and Bodily Integrity by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Just War Doctrine

War and Capital Punishment by Jimmy Akin

The Death Penalty & Creeping Infallibilism by Jimmy Akin

Catholic Encyclopedia: Homicide




Dude and jmm,

Thanks to you both, as well. :)




Thank you, Thomistic, for an excellent, full response. It is maddening that those who most need to hear that will not or cannot hear it, but those who can hear the truth are encouraged and strengthened whenever they do.
"If someone rejects the notion of sin, how can they turn to the Savior? If someone refuses to admit they are sick, how can they turn to a doctor to be healed?"
THAT's the toughest part of every debate over same-sex "marriage" and abortion. Those who defend these practices simply refuse to consider their sinfulness. They rage at the notion that they could be wrong.


I strongly disagree with the tone of the comments here and cannot bend my reasoning to understand how they would reconcile with a consistent ethic of life.

It's clear to me that positions held by the GOP have been, at best, inconsistent on matters of life. Capital punishment, war, health care, poverty, and environment are all important life issues that the majority of republicans do not represent well.

I personally disagree with democrats who are not pro-life with respect to issues of abortion and euthanasia, and am often conflicted when it comes to choosing candidates because of these particular issues. However, I've felt that overall, traditional republican stances are certainly unrepresentative of the 'seamless garment' represented as part of a consistent life ethic. I would challenge fellow Catholics to consider these ideals regardless of a candidate's political party.



You said:

It's clear to me that positions held by the GOP have been, at best, inconsistent on matters of life. Capital punishment, war, health care, poverty, and environment are all important life issues that the majority of Republicans do not represent well.

I personally disagree with Democrats who are not pro-life with respect to issues of abortion and euthanasia, and am often conflicted when it comes to choosing candidates because of these particular issues. However, I've felt that overall, traditional Republican stances are certainly unrepresentative of the 'seamless garment' represented as part of a consistent life ethic.

I reply:

You seem to have bought into the "seamless garment" fantasy, which involves a consistent ethic of rationalization, denial of reality, sophistry, and wishful thinking in order to believe that this novel doctrine is authentically Catholic. The so-called "seamless garment" doctrine is, in reality, little more than a shelter under which immoral "Catholic" politicians hide in order to pretend that their support for legal, elective abortion, the destruction of human embryos for scientific research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the legal recognition of homosexual unions can be reconciled with Church teaching, despite the fact that the "seamless garment" notion has been endorsed by extremely liberal prelates such as the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadin whose progressive agenda wreaked havoc throughout the institutional Church in the United States and provocatively motivated him to include the "Windy City Gay Men's Chorus" among the groups providing music at his wake (which he planned himself); progressive priests like the late Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit who, more than any other single figure, was influential in tutoring American "Catholic" politicians on the acceptability of rejecting the Church's teaching on the defense of innocent human life in the womb; and progressive men and women religious like Josephite Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, who according to Our Sunday Visitor, criticized the 'loophole' in Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, in which he allows for the death penalty 'in cases of absolute necessity' and requires individuals to make their own prudential judgment according to their conscience. The newspaper also reported that Prejean opposed abortion but argued that poor women without emotional support have little 'choice' to make the right decision."

Here is an excellent article on the moral failure of agenda-driven progressive Catholic leaders and their use of the so-called "seamless garment" doctrine to rationalize turning a blind eye to and even supporting those who promote intrinsic moral evils like legal, elective abortion, the destruction of human embryos for scientific research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the legal recognition of homosexual unions: The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership

Here are some quotes from the article:

Fr. Drinan's bad example

Unfortunately, Drinan did worse than set a bad example for Catholic politicians. He enabled them to rationalize support for pro-abortion legislative initiatives, on the ground that they were doing nothing that a Catholic priest in good standing was not able and willing to do. Moreover, Drinan provided a much-imitated model for Catholic politicians who wished to support the pro-abortion movement while claiming to be faithful to Catholic moral teaching. When a constituent would write to his office expressing pro-life views, Drinan would respond with a letter giving assurances of his full agreement with the Church’s teaching that abortion is gravely wrong. The letter would reveal nothing of Drinan’s consistent support for pro-abortion policies and opposition to pro-life initiatives. Drinan’s legislative record on the subject was mentioned only when he replied to constituents whose letters to his office expressed pro-abortion sentiments. What Drinan was developing in practice was the “personally opposed but pro-choice” position that was later to be defended formally in a famous speech by New York Governor Mario Cuomo at Notre Dame University.

Drinan left Congress in 1980 after the Holy See issued a general order requiring all priests to abstain from seeking or holding political office. He went on to become president of Americans for Democratic Action. In that connection, he sent out a fund-raising letter urging the moral necessity of electing candidates to Congress who favored legal abortion and its public funding.

Drinan continued this line of argument in his articles supporting Clinton’s veto of the ban on partial birth abortions. He claimed that the ban “would allow federal power to intrude into the practice of medicine.” Remarkably, he argued that banning these abortions would “detract from the urgent need to decrease abortions.” Repeating the discredited pro-abortion propaganda on which Clinton had relied in justifying his veto, Drinan suggested that partial birth abortions are rarely performed in the United States and then only when necessary to save women’s lives or prevent grave injury.

This time, however, Drinan’s efforts landed him in trouble, forcing him in the end into a humiliating retreat. New York’s John Cardinal O’Connor, writing in his own archdiocesan newspaper, dramatically called Drinan to account: “You could have raised your formidable voice for life; you have raised it for death. ...Hardly the role of a lawmaker. Surely, not the role of a priest.” James Cardinal Hickey, archbishop of Washington, D.C., where Drinan resides and teaches, demanded that Drinan “clarify” his position since his published comments, the cardinal’s spokesperson said, had “caused public confusion about Church teaching on abortion.”

Not long thereafter, Drinan issued a statement “withdrawing” what he said in the New York Times and the National Catholic Reporter. After noting that he relied on what turned out to be false information concerning “the true nature and widespread use of partial-birth abortion,” Drinan reaffirmed his “total support” for the Church’s “firm condemnation of abortion.”

The sad truth, however, is that his admission came more than 25 years too late. By 1997, Drinan’s efforts, his bad example, and the profound scandal he had given, beginning in the early 1970s, had done immeasurable damage to the pro-life cause.

There's more:

Bernardin's seamless garment

Let us next turn to the crucial period from 1983 to 1987. The key figure in our story now becomes the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago. Bernardin, who was general secretary of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) from 1968 to 1972 and its president from 1974 to 1977, was thoroughly familiar with its operations. He agreed with critics that Catholic teaching as a coherent whole had not been adequately communicated in previous pastoral letters and statements. He was aware that the bishops’ approach had been too “scattershot.” When he was appointed in January 1981 chair of an ad hoc committee to draft a pastoral letter on the arms race, he sought to avoid replicating these problems. As Bernardin saw it, the goal of the pastoral was to “present a theory which is in conformity with the totality of the Church’s moral teaching.”

Bernardin designed a “consultation” process with “experts” and laity far more extensive than the USCC had previously undertaken. Partially due to this consultation and to the fact that the first draft was leaked to the press, “it would be difficult to find a document more widely researched and discussed during its formation, from the very beginning.”

The pastoral went through three drafts, numerous meetings and consultations, and scores of amendments. The Challenge of Peace, as it was called, was finally issued in May 1983. It was controversial from the outset. While some objections were spurious (such as the demand — this time heard more often from political conservatives than from liberals — that “religion be kept out of politics”), there is at least one valid objection, which may justly be made to many of the USCC’s documents to this day. Although the bishops “set forth...the principles of Catholic teaching on war,” including, quite rightly, the Church’s strict teaching regarding the absolute immunity of noncombatants from direct attack, they went on to make “a series of judgments, based on these principles, about concrete policies.” Many of these judgments involved assessments of fact and prudential judgments on which reasonable people and faithful Catholics can, and do, legitimately disagree. This was a recipe for confusing the faithful about what teaching of the bishops is binding in conscience and what is not. This confusion is bound to be — and, undeniably, has been — promoted and exploited by people who, in varying degrees of bad faith, have sought to rationalize their support for abortion and their efforts in its cause.

Cardinal Bernardin’s famous initiative for a “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life” appears to have grown out of his experience with The Challenge of Peace. A few months after that document was issued, the cardinal used the occasion of a lecture at Fordham University in New York to announce the “seamless garment” initiative. It was to have important ramifications for the development of a Catholic bioethic in America.

The cardinal noted that The Challenge of Peace provides a “starting point” for shaping a consistent ethic of life inasmuch as it “links the questions of abortion and nuclear war.... No other major institution presently holds these two positions in the way the Catholic bishops have joined them. This is both a responsibility and an opportunity.”

He went on to argue that “the long term ecclesiological significance of the pastoral rests with the lessons it offers about the Church’s capacity for dialogue with the world in a way which helps to shape public policy on key issues.” In proposing the seamless garment initiative, his purpose, he said, was to “argue that success on any one of the issues threatening life requires concern for the broader attitudes in society about respect for human life.”

There is not a great deal to disagree with in what Cardinal Bernardin said thus far. But then he made the intellectual move that would bedevil the seamless garment initiative and, eventually, rend the garment:

The issue of consistency [of application of moral principle] is tested...when we examine the relationship between the “right to life” and the “quality of life” issues.... Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us.... Such a quality of life posture translates into specific political and economic positions on tax policy, employment generation, welfare policy, nutrition and feeding programs, and health care.

Bernardin’s analysis has been subjected to searching criticism by many, including John Finnis. As Finnis observed, it is at best tendentious to assert that people active in the pro-life cause must be “equally visible” in other good causes. Moreover, the cardinal’s suggestion that a sound “quality of life posture translates into specific political and economic positions [emphasis added]” is ambiguous to the point of being misleading. On a great many political and economic issues, choice is between, or among, not (or not only) good and bad policy options but (also) a range of choices, all of which are consistent with a morally proper “posture.” And even with respect to certain issues that do admit of a uniquely “best” policy option, identifying that option may depend on empirical and prudential judgments that are reasonably in dispute among people who share a sound “posture.”

We do not believe that the purpose of Cardinal Bernardin’s seamless garment initiative was to provide “cover” to Catholic politicians (and others) who wished to advance the pro-abortion agenda while claiming to be faithful, or at least friendly, to Catholic social teaching. Unfortunately, however, an unintended side effect of the initiative was that it provided precisely such cover. The best example of someone seizing it is that of Mario Cuomo, the very public Catholic politician who served two terms as governor of New York.

I will go on record as saying the article's assessment of Cardinal Bernadin is extremely charitable and more generous than my own assessment of his choices.

It is sad to report that poorly formed Catholics have used the so-called "seamless garment" fantasy to salve their consciences and justify voting for babykillers for some time.

The "seamless garment" error is flawed for many reasons.

The death penalty is not intrinsically evil and is morally licit. This has been Church teaching from the beginning, and Church teaching on matters of faith and morals cannot change.

Pope John Paul II did not reverse Church teaching on the death penalty, although many Catholics who are poorly formed with respect to the intricacies of Church teaching on this matter think he did. Church teaching on matters of faith and morals cannot change – ever. No pope can change what the Church teaches on matters of faith and morals (in terms of dogma and doctrine). Disciplines can change, but dogma and doctrines about matters of faith and morals cannot change.

The first pope to take a stand in favor of the death penalty was Innocent I in the year 405. In response to a query from the Bishop of Toulouse, Pope Innocent I based his position on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. He wrote:

It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority. (Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, February 20, 405, PL 20,495)

Pope Innocent III:

The secular power can without mortal sin carry out a sentence of death, provided it proceeds in imposing the penalty not from hatred but with judgment, not carelessly but with due solicitude. (Innocent III, DS 795/425)

Pius XII:

Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life. (Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)

The Catechism of the Council of Trent:

The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.

In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8). (Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."65

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.66

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.67

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, 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.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."68

The last line of that section would be true were it not for the fact that dangerous men can and do still have influence on the outside world from behind prison walls. Men like Charles Manson and mafia family leaders have loyal followers. Captured terrorists also have devoted true believers who are willing to kidnap innocent people and hold them hostage or commit or threaten to commit acts of terror in order to pressure authorities to release these murderous criminals.

In this age of celebrity killers, men like Scott Peterson, the Menendez brothers, Richard Ramirez (the "Nightstalker"), and others receive fan mail and some have even met and married (apparently deranged and desperate) women who were attracted to them because of their celebrity status and pursued a relationship with them after they were sentenced to prison.

Charles Manson and his "family" have come up for parole many times. Some of them have even been released. Manson and many members of his "family" would have been executed for their roles in the Tate and La Bianca murders, were it not for the agenda of Rose Bird, the progressive former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. This required Doris Tate, the mother of Sharon Tate, who was, along with her unborn baby, murdered by Manson's followers to work tirelessly to prevent their parole not only for the sake of justice because of what was done to her daughter, but for the safety of society.

Doris Tate was unflinching in her assessment of Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten, saying that their crimes were so vicious as to warrant execution. Confronting her daughter's killers she spoke plainly to them. Susan Atkins, who had boasted of stabbing Tate because she was "sick of listening to her", began to change her story as she sought to obtain parole. She had embraced religion and argued that as God had forgiven her, she did not need the forgiveness of anyone else. Denying responsibility, she changed her story to say that she had argued with Watson against killing Tate. Doris Tate said at a parole hearing "You're an excellent actress. The greatest job since Sarah Bernhardt". To waiting media she said "I feel very sorry that these people chose this way of life. But after eight convictions of murder, there's no turning back. And society has been kind to Ms. Atkins by overturning the death penalty, and that is more concern than she gave my daughter".

Addressing Charles Watson at his parole hearing in 1984 she said, "What mercy, Sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? What mercy did you show my daughter when she said give me two weeks to have my baby and then you can kill me? ... When will [Sharon] come up for parole?... Will these seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get paroled? You cannot be trusted". She again confronted Watson at his 1990 parole hearing.

Then there's Willie Horton:

On October 26, 1974, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Willie Horton and two accomplices robbed Joseph Fournier, a 17-year-old gas station attendant, stabbed him 19 times, and left him in a trash can. Fournier died from blood loss. Horton was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment, and incarcerated at the Concord Correctional Facility in Massachusetts.

On June 6, 1986, he was released as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. On April 3, 1987 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted, but was later captured by police after a chase. On October 20, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again." This was reported in the October 1987 Reader's Digest.

Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation. The State inmate furlough program was actually signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972. However, in 1976, Governor Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have made inmates convicted of first-degree murder ineligible for furloughs. The program remained in effect through the intervening term of governor Edward J. King and was abolished during Dukakis's final term of office on April 28, 1988. This abolition only occurred after the Lawrence Eagle Tribune had run 175 stories about the furlough program and won a Pulitzer Prize. Dukakis continued to argue that the program was 99% effective; yet, as the Lawrence Eagle Tribune pointed out, no state outside of Massachusetts, nor any federal program, would grant a furlough to a prisoner serving life without parole, as Horton was.

Convicted murderers, rapists, and child molesters are released from prison or given lenient sentences more often than people seem to realize.

People also escape from prison and murder others during and after their escape.

Consider the case of Brian Nichols:

Brian Gene Nichols is accused of shooting and killing Judge Rowland W. Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau, and deputy sheriff Sgt. Hoyt Teasley at a Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia on March 11, 2005, and is the suspect in the murder of U.S. Customs agent, David Wilhelm, on March 12, 2005.

The following is what is alleged by the State of Georgia. After a 51-year old female sheriff's deputy, 5'2" Cynthia Hall, removed his handcuffs so that he could change into civilian clothes (so that the jury would not be prejudiced against him), Nichols attacked the deputy and took her sidearm. According to hospital sources the deputy suffered bruising to her brain and some fractures around her face. After the attack, her condition was announced critical, but she survived.

Nichols then crossed over to the old courthouse via a skybridge, where he entered the private chambers of Judge Rowland W. Barnes. While there he encountered another deputy, overpowered him and also took his weapon. Nichols then entered Barnes' courtroom from a door behind the judge's bench, where Barnes was presiding over motions in a civil trial, and shot him in the back of the head. Nichols then shot the court reporter, shot a pursuing deputy outside the courtroom, and then fled the building. Barnes and the court reporter died at the scene and the deputy was pronounced dead on arrival.

During his escape Nichols tried to carjack at least three vehicles, ending up in a multilevel parking structure for Atlanta's Underground tourist area. He first took a tow truck at gun point outside the courtroom. Later he hijacked a Honda Accord from Don O'Briant, a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nichols pistol-whipped O'Briant in order to gain control of the car.

It was later reported that the Honda Accord never left the parking deck from which it was stolen. Police began treating the deck as a crime scene around 11:45 p.m. EST and examining security cameras. Investigators suspected Nichols may have abandoned the car after spotting an easier target, taking the owner with him to avoid being reported.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's office later announced that a call had been received from a man claiming to be Nichols, who threatened to kill Assistant District Attorney Gayle Abramson. It was also announced that Nichols stole a gun from a second deputy.

Manhunt and capture

After a press conference consisting of various members of the Atlanta Police Department and Mayor Shirley Franklin, it was announced that there was a reward of approximately $60,000 for information leading to Nichols' arrest.

On the morning of Saturday, March 12, it was reported that a U.S. Customs Agent, now identified as David Wilhelm, was shot and killed somewhere in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, and that the agent's badge, gun and pickup truck were missing. Nichols is the prime suspect in the murder of Wilhelm.

Nichols later approached a woman named Ashley Smith at an apartment complex in Duluth, Georgia, approximately 27 miles north of Atlanta in Gwinnett County. Nichols reportedly told her that he was a wanted man. He then forced her into the bathroom and tied her up. He placed a handtowel over her head while he took a shower (so that she wouldn't have to watch him). She was sitting on a stool with the towel around her eyes when she told him about her five-year-old daughter, Paige. Thinking she may never see her daughter again, she tried to reason with him.

Smith was held hostage for several hours in her own apartment, during which time Nichols requested marijuana, but Smith told him she only had "ice" (methamphetamine). In her book “Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero” Smith revealed that she “had been struggling with a methamphetamine addiction when she was taken hostage” and the last time she used meth “was 36 hours before Nichols held a gun to her and entered her home. Nichols wanted her to use the drug with him, but she refused.”[1] Instead, she chose to read to him from the Bible and The Purpose Driven Life. She tried to convince Nichols to turn himself in by sharing with him how her husband "had died in her arms four years earlier after being stabbed during a brawl."[2] Smith also writes that she asked Nichols “if he wanted to see the danger of drugs and lifted up her tank top several inches to reveal a five-inch scar down the center of her torso — the aftermath of a car wreck caused by drug-induced psychosis. She says she let go of the steering wheel when she heard a voice saying, ‘Let go and let God.’”[2] When news of his crimes was reported on television, Nichols looked to the ceiling and asked the Lord to forgive him. In the morning Smith cooked breakfast for Nichols.

When Nichols let Smith leave her apartment to visit her daughter, Smith called 9-1-1, and local law enforcement, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms responded to the scene. The Gwinnett SWAT team quickly surrounded the apartment. After some time, Nichols surrendered peacefully to the SWAT Team and was quickly taken away in a navy blue FBI SUV. Atlanta police chief Richard Pennington admitted surprise that Nichols surrendered peacefully.

Although Nichols eventually "surrendered peacefully", he murdered a number of people before he did so, even after having already been in the custody of law enforcement for another murder.

How can society be protected from people like this when silly progressive judges, politicians, and citizens keep letting them out or agitating for their release?

It is unrealistic to believe that society can simply lock up every dangerous criminal and throw away the key, keeping us all safe. Moreover, it is not within the authority of any Pope to decide what is best for the common good of a society. According to Church teaching, the lawful authorities in those societies are the legitimate arbiters of what is best for the protection of their society and the preservation of the common good whether the threat to the common good be an individual, a group or network of individuals (like terrorist organizations), or another nation, and this authority is legitimately and justly exercised so long as the moral principles outlined in the many resources I have linked in this thread are not violated.

What can and does keep society safe is executing dangerous criminals, as has been shown by recent studies: Studies: Death Penalty Discourages Crime


A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?"

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

To explore the question, they look at executions and homicides, by year and by state or county, trying to tease out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction, and more.

Among the conclusions:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

If executions are a deterrent, that means executions save lives. It is perfectly reasonable, moral, and just for civil authorities to decide that the common good is served by the execution of dangerous criminals.

Moreover, with the advances in forensic science, it can be much easier to be certain of a criminal's guilt or innocence, thereby increasing the chances for solid convictions and decreasing the likelihood of false convictions.

Another problem with the so-called "seamless garment" fantasy is that it makes lesser goods the equal of higher, more important goods. While health care is a good, it is subordinate to the right to life. Without life, there can be no possibility of health care.

While Catholics must work to ensure that all human persons are not lacking in what is essential to human dignity, they can differ on how to go about achieving this end. It is not a moral requirement that government provide health care for everyone. Those who propose that it should seem to ignore the fact that socialized medicine has been a disaster every time it has been tried and those countries who have it now have tremendous problems. Government should facilitate individuals being able to access the things essential to human dignity, but it is not the role of government to have absolute control over any industry, and when governments do control industries, they generally bleed money and are rife with inefficiency.

Those who think the government should provide health care for everyone need to reflect on where they draw the line. Should the government buy all our food for us and buy us all homes, as well? Surely food and shelter are even more basic needs than the need for health care. Where does the call to have the government as mommy and daddy to everyone end?

As for war, the Church clearly teaches that there is such a thing as just war. The conditions for just war are explained here: Just War Doctrine

War is not intrinsically evil, but abortion is intrinsically evil. So the two cannot be equal. Reasonable people can disagree about whether or not a given conflict meets the criterion for a just war. Pope Benedict said as much here: Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

There are other problems with the "seamless garment" covered in this article: Seamless Garment or Political Comforter?

There is more than one solution for the issues of capital punishment, war, health care, poverty, and environment, and reasonable Catholics can have legitimate disagreements on what should be done about these issues.

However, elective abortion is intrinsically evil and may never be tolerated. There is not more than one way to deal with the evil of abortion. It must be outlawed.

Reasonable people can disagree about how to resolve the other complex issues of life, but directly killing the innocent, whether by abortion, so-called "assisted suicide", or euthanasia is intrinsically evil, an objectively serious sin, and may never be tolerated under any circumstances, and no Catholic is justified in supporting candidates and/or or policies that promote, support, or facilitate legal, elective abortion, the destruction of human embryos for scientific research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the legal recognition of homosexual unions.



T. Shaw

To what "Faith" is B. Hussein Obama referring?

Abortion will remain 'legal' in this country.

Here's why. The libdem, lay bureaucrats that run the back room of the USCCB are feverishly working to raise confusion and doubt among the 'faithful.' They are laying the foundation for rationalizing voting for the class warfare (take from the 'evil' rich and use the $$$ to buy dem votes, er, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods'); unborn baby murder (thou shalt not commit 1.5 million murders a year); gay privileges fanatic (Thou shalt not commit adultery) candidate. They will do this by smearing by innuendo the pro-life candidate as uncharitable - they will try to convince that stealing, er, taxing, from rich peope and giving the money to the 'poor' is Christian Charity; pro-capital punishment (13 executions in a year)and pro-Iraq war (unjust war/torture - says who?).

“Who spills man’s blood,
By man shall his blood be spilt,
For God made man in His image.”

Gen. 9:6

Re: the ignorant, nonsensical 'ban' on CP: 1. Do they mean that all the Catholics for 1996 years before they 'saw the light' are damned??? Or, is this modernism - changing church (N.B. no caps) to suit their 'new age' liberal pabulum. 2. The CCC editors need to see the National Geo. Explorer series on prison violence and realize that CP is the only way to both protect society (deterrence, other inmates, guards, etc.) from these predators and to adequately punish the filthy animals for their murders. Case closed.

A Simple Sinner

No one ever talks about the religous left. But if Revs. Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton are any indication, the Left can be very forgiving of religious involvment in the US - so long as they like what they are hearing from the pulpit.

But fair is fair and realistic is realistic - for all the woo-ing, courting, appeasing, placating and stumping conservative politicians have done to/for/with Evangelicals & Catholics, how well has this played out for us?

In the ultimate matter of importance to us who are pro-life, where exactly has this gotten us to decreasing abortion today and making it illegal tomorrow. At best we have gotten some judicial appointments at the federal level who could POSSIBLY push the fight to state level courts.

Partial Birth Abortion is certainly a victory... But that is the best we could do?


Simple Sinner, good to hear from rare these days. I've been wondering where you've been. Work I would suppose, like myself.

The liberal agenda came in not all at once, but through incrementalism. Unfortunately, it will be a much more difficult task to rollback so much of what has been 'approved of' in the past 45 years.

The Partial birth abortion ban was huge and not to be overlooked. We finally got enough power on the Supreme Court to make this happen.

Tonight I was at a political fundraiser for Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. I think he is a conservative on the inside, but in a liberal state has to govern as a moderate Republican. If not, he would simply not be elected. He will probably run with citizen McCain/The McCain mutiny, as the veep for '08 (I cannot vote for McCain, but between him and Hillary, I'll pick McCain). The point is, tonight he was asked what he would advise the Republican Party to change so they can get their **** together for '08. Pawlenty stated, in so many words, that the republicans have done a horrible job of defining the bread and butter topics for quite some time. He also reminded us (and correctly I believe) that Reagan was not the hardline conservative that we all like to remmember him as and that he made many, many comprimises. Now I'll say: However, Reagan kept his eye on the ball. I think things were better when he left office, than when he came into office.

I have a very difficult time with compromises, but in the political schema, frequently they are necessary...but to what deadly extent?

The long way to answer your question is with one word: Incrementalism.

The problem is, we have done such a poor method of coming up with a public/conservative/Catholic catechesis in terms of allowing the Roosevelt dems and all the way to the angry radical liberals in defining the playing field.

I think we should pay for public airtime at the local levels and go through the step-by-step logic and debate on issues like abortion, cloning and other life issues. Make it cool and hip, not rolling snare drums and flute/Patriot music in the background. We need to have open-air time on explaining jibberish like the 'Seamless Garment' tripe our liberal, dissenting Catholics have fooled so many Catholics and the secular public on.

The problem is, we're losing the propaganda war. And this is exaclty how the left moved so heavy over the past 40 years: Effective mainstream message at the educational, entertainment, news media and judicial levels in tandem with a very demanding incrementalism.

At this point can their horrible ideology be rolled back? On most levels, my common sense says no, especially if we take an 'all or nothing' approach to voting for conservatives. They seek to divide us, and this is exactly what Obama et al are trying to do.

I think we feel legitimate apathy with the majority of our situation, but now is the time to double and triple our efforts.


Pardon me: compr-o-mises, not compr-i-mises.


John Paul II also promoted a consistent life ethic, but did not call all life issues equal, as they are not. There can be no quality of life if life itself is stolen from the innocent, especially the unborn.
What I don't like about the seamless garment is our abuse of it. Whenever we try to defend the unborn or protect marriage for the sake of new life, we are criticized for not caring about the poor, the immigrants, and peace in our world. That is an unfair and ridiculous assumption.
Of all people to be accused of such negligence, our bishop in RI is being criticized by Catholics for neglecting other issues! He is the most obviously concerned bishop in my memory, and took on the cares of the needy here as soon as he was appointed. But because he is rightly concerned with the MOST needy and will not back down, he is accused by those who claim the "seamless garment" as an excuse to permit the slaughter of children too young to express their own needs.
If anything has been hi-jacked, here, it is the Gospel! And the hijackers are not the pro-life champions.


Thomistic: Thank you so much for your extensive insight regarding the 5th commandment!! I apologize for the lengthy delay in getting back to are an absolute wealth of information!! Though I'm still not convinced the war was truly justifiable--- especially considering all the innocent lives that have been lost or ruined (orphans, amputees, etc.) because of our desire for regime change--I am (now) far more understanding of the fifth commandment. This such a complex does one protect himself (or the church) without violating the very precepts he should hold dear? Here is a question to ponder---and please don't consider me crazy for posing it: Was Eric Rudolph---the abortion clinic bomber also responsible for the Olympic attack in Atlanta---justified in his reasoning if he believed in his heart that he was "killing the killers" and thereby protecting the unborn?

The easy answer is "no"---that he was crazy, but it does tie in with numerous facets of the 5th commandment, as well as unjust laws (the right to choose). Not trying to open a pandora's box here, but it is something to ponder. When is killing truly justified? Please enlighten me...


Even satan can quote scripture but who can understand the mind of God? My ways are not your ways says the Lord. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. You have heard it said, and eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth but I say...; give him your coat as well. Do not repay evil with evil but.... Just reflecting on Thomistic's use of proof texts. I could be wrong. Fire away.


You couldn't be more correct, thank you for hitting back at Obama using scripture, there is no more powerful message. I couldn't agree more with your analysis and comments.



It is absolutely absurd that you would spend so much time defending the protestant religious right in America, which is clearly at fault for so much that is wrong with our country. They use their false religion for evil and divisive purposes. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Osama bin Laden all birds of a feather.


I always think of St Stephen when I get flack for adherring to Christ's teachings and not following the modern fallacy that Jesus taught "equality" and tolerance (what he taught was love not mere tolerance of one another). St Stephen continued to proclaim Christ and those who opposed him "gnashed their teeth" and "shut up their ears" before stoning him to death. The world never wants to hear the true word of Christ.

And yes Andrew, the folks you mentioned need no defending, they have done just as much to harm this nation as any other group.


Wow...Tell me how you get from the Golden Rule to splitting hairs about why abortion is murder, but war is not. Thank you for putting your obvious partisan political ideals above any hint of true peace brought by Jesus.

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