Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface to the Second Edition (2014): The Church and Capital Punishment since the Death of John Paul II

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pp. ix-xxx

More than a thousand people have been executed in the United States since Pope Saint John Paul II published his extraordinary teaching on the death penalty in 1995, which turned the Catholic Church irrevocably in the direction of abolition.1 That number seems large. But annual statistics show that public support in the United States for the death penalty is at a forty-year...

Abbreviations

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

For over three decades an international effort has been afoot to restrict the death penalty throughout the world, with a view to abolishing it. Statistics testify to the success of this effort. As of January 2003, more than half the countries of the world had abolished the death penalty in law or practice,2 while in 1965 “abolitionist” countries numbered only about...

Part I: Sorting Out the Issues

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Chapter 1: The Present Teaching of the Magisterium

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pp. 9-37

Some background on the stages of development of the teaching on capital punishment in the Catechism will help us understand the shape and content of the definitive text.1 In 1989 a Vatican commission, established for the purpose of preparing the Church’s universal catechism, distributed a text called “Revised Project” to all the bishops of the Catholic Church for consultation and...

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Chapter 2: The Justification of Punishment

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pp. 38-56

Appealing to human dignity as the rational basis for abolishing capital punishment, as I argue the Catechism of the Catholic Church is implicitly doing, differs in a fundamental way from other common arguments against the death penalty. Some hold that the justification for the infliction of any particular punishment lies in the verifiable tendency of that punishment to deter crime better than...

Part II: The History of the Church’s Teaching

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Chapter 3: The Death Penalty and Scripture

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pp. 59-73

My conclusion in chapter 1, that the format and content of the teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty prepare the way for a development of doctrine in the Church’s moral teaching on the subject, naturally gives rise to the question of the relationship of this potential development to antecedent Catholic teaching. In chapters 3 through 6 I undertake a roughly...

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Chapter 4: The Patristic Consensus

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pp. 74-95

For the Fathers of the early Church, the authority of the state to kill malefactors is taken for granted. Opinions differed on whether Christians should hold offices whose responsibilities include the judging and carrying out of capital punishments—pre-Constantinian authors said they should not, those writing after AD 313 said they should—but the principled legitimacy of the punishment...

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Chapter 5: The Medieval Testimony

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pp. 96-112

Medieval Catholic views on the morality of capital punishment share much in common with those of the later Patristic period. However, there are significant differences. The Fathers after AD 313 were conspicuous for their energetic intercessions for clemency on behalf of the condemned; in the Middle Ages interventions of this sort are uncommon. The hesitation about capital punishment which so...

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Chapter 6: Sixteenth Century to the Present

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pp. 113-138

The first part of this chapter takes up the traditional teaching on the morality of capital punishment in Catholic texts from genres as diverse as moral manuals, catechisms, periodical literature, and apologetic tracts dating approximately from the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century to Vatican II in the twentieth. I select authors and texts with the widest possible influence, and whose ideas...

Part III: Rethinking the Church’s Traditional Notion of Justifiable Homicide

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Chapter 7: Capital Punishment and the Development of Doctrine

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pp. 141-163

The question prompting the historical survey in chapters 3 through 6 was this: is it possible for the Catholic Church, limited by the requirements of sound biblical exegesis and its own doctrinal tradition, to teach in an authoritative way that capital punishment is always morally wrong (the judgment to which the...

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Chapter 8: Toward an Ethical Judgment that Capital Punishment Is Intrinsically Wrong

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pp. 164-190

Thus far I have set forth only the conclusions of what I have called the new position of the Catholic Church on the morality of capital punishment, and have merely hinted at what a wider theory yielding such conclusions might look like. My purpose in this final chapter is to develop the suggestions of previous chapters into a systematic and philosophically consistent account of the new...

Notes

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pp. 191-250

Bibliography

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pp. 251-270

Index of Authors

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pp. 271-274

Index of Subjects

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pp. 275-282

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About the Author, Back Cover

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E. Christian Brugger is the J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Professor of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.