Denver, Colo., Oct 18, 2005 / 22:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).
In his most recent column in the Denver Catholic Register, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput clarified the Catholic Church’s often misunderstood teaching on the death penalty, saying that in almost all cases today, it goes beyond necessity, and into undignified excess.
He compared the Church’s teaching on the death penalty to that on acts like abortion, genocide and euthanasia, saying that in the comparison, there is an inequality.
"The death penalty", he wrote, "is not intrinsically evil. Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment under certain circumstances. The Church cannot repudiate that without repudiating her own identity."
"Catholic teaching on euthanasia, the death penalty, war, genocide and abortion," the archbishop said, "are rooted in the same concern for the sanctity of the human person. But these different issues do not all have the same gravity or moral content. They are not equivalent."
He used war as an applicable example, noting that there are cases in which acts of war are morally legitimate--similar to the death penalty.