• Unite vs death penalty, CBCP urges Filipinos

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    THE influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday called on Filipinos to unite against moves to revive the death penalty, which President Rodrigo Duterte wants to use in his war against crime.

    The CBCP president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbisbop Socrates Villegas, made the call a day after the House justice committee approved the bill restoring the death penalty for 21 “heinous crimes.”

    “In resisting the threat of the restoration of the death penalty, we cannot be disunited or indifferent. On this pro-life issue let us truly unite. Come out and make a stand!” said the prelate in a statement posted at the CBCP website.

    “This is a conscience call to stand up for life,” Villegas added.

    He pointed out that the death penalty is self-contradictory because it espouses the same posture of violence condemned by the state.

    Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, accused pro-death penalty congressmen of “trying to railroad” the passage of the death penalty measure, House Bill No. 1.

    “Let us make a more forceful stand against the death penalty,” he said. “Now more than ever we need to act fast and swiftly to counteract the prevailing culture of death in our society.”

    With the bill’s passage at the committee level, the measure will be debated for second reading in the plenary.

    Once the bill is approved on second reading, approval on third and final reading will only be a formality. The bill needs to go through the same process in the Senate.

    The death penalty was abolished by the 1987 Constitution, only to be restored in 1994 by former President Fidel Ramos with the enactment of Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law.

    It was again abolished in 2006 by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    According to the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, 124 out of 194 countries have abolished the death penalty in their penal systems.

    LP to oppose bill

    Also on Thursday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said he and other members of the Liberal Party would oppose the bill, pointing to the country’s weak legal system.

    “Our less than ideal justice system can result in someone being executed when he was in fact innocent,” Drilon told reporters.

    “We are not convinced the re-imposition of death penalty is a deterrence to crime … it takes years before someone is charged or convicted. By that time the people have already forgotten that the crime was committed and therefore, the desired deterrence when you impose a penalty becomes no longer effective,” he said.

    “That goes back to our position that there must be reforms in our justice system before we even consider the re-imposition of death penalty because of the possibility of errors being committed, and you cannot correct the error once it is committed,” he added.

    Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, in a statement, said the approval of the bill was meant to please the President, even if there was “no evidence or a study showing that death penalty is an effective way to curb crime.”

    Robredo noted that the Philippines is a signatory to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—a pact that prohibits countries from restoring death penalty.

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    5 Comments

    1. juan caparas iv on

      SOMAROSEP! instead of blocking the passage of the death penalty, why don’t they – the Group of Catholic Priest – teach their flock NOT TO COMMIT SINS, so they may be spared for the Death Penalty. I think they are not doing very well on their job – that is telling people not to sin. And what about the victims? Ganoon na lang ba yun? double standard – they are more inclined to save the life of the criminals – i say let the kill criminals – and the priests can test their “power” by praying for the souls of these criminals….see if they get to their heaven..

    2. The government must start taxing the catholic church since they no longer follow the separation of church and state. Use the money generated from taxing the catholic church to build houses for the poor and rehabilitation centers for the drug dependent. Check the individual earnings of these hoodlums in robes and jail those who doesn’t pay income tax. They are hypocrites they condemn and yet they get “donations” from those they condemn. A very good example is gambling they condemn gambling and yet they get donations from PCSO and other gambling institutions. HYPOCRITES.

      Romans 6:23
      For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      Titus 3:1
      Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.

      No wonder Catholics prefer to go to malls than go to Church.

    3. I don’t stil many people still believed the stand of the Catholic Church and CBCP on death penalty. I will support death penalty. I will always consider what distinguishes a man from animals, and that is the conscience. Unconscionable killings are done only by vicious animals and deserved for dead.

    4. Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, accused pro-death penalty congressmen of “trying to railroad” the passage of the death penalty measure, Hou se Bill No. 1.

      Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.

    5. (Excerpt from Study of Avery Cardinal Dulles on Death Penalty)
      Among the major nations of the Western world, the United States is singular in still having the death penalty. After a five-year moratorium, from 1972 to 1977, capital punishment was reinstated in the United States courts. Objections to the practice have come from many quarters, including the American Catholic bishops, who have rather consistently opposed the death penalty. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1980 published a predominantly negative statement on capital punishment, approved by a majority vote of those present though not by the required two-thirds majority of the entire conference.{1} Pope John Paul II has at various times expressed his opposition to the practice, as have other Catholic leaders in Europe.

      Some Catholics, going beyond the bishops and the Pope, maintain that the death penalty, like abortion and euthanasia, is a violation of the right to life and an unauthorized usurpation by human beings of God’s sole lordship over life and death. Did not the Declaration of Independence, they ask, describe the right to life as “unalienable”?

      While sociological and legal questions inevitably impinge upon any such reflection, I am here addressing the subject as a theologian. At this level the question has to be answered primarily in terms of revelation, as it comes to us through Scripture and tradition, interpreted with the guidance of the ecclesiastical magisterium.

      In the Old Testament the Mosaic Law specifies no less than thirty-six capital offenses calling for execution by stoning, burning, decapitation, or strangulation. Included in the list are idolatry, magic, blasphemy, violation of the sabbath, murder, adultery, bestiality, pederasty, and incest. The death penalty was considered especially fitting as a punishment for murder since in his covenant with Noah God had laid down the principle, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image” (Genesis 9:6). In many cases God is portrayed as deservedly punishing culprits with death, as happened to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16). In other cases individuals such as Daniel and Mordecai are God’s agents in bringing a just death upon guilty persons.

      In the New Testament the right of the State to put criminals to death seems to be taken for granted. Jesus himself refrains from using violence. He rebukes his disciples for wishing to call down fire from heaven to punish the Samaritans for their lack of hospitality (Luke 9:55). Later he admonishes Peter to put his sword in the scabbard rather than resist arrest (Matthew 26:52). At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die” (Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10, referring to Exodus 2l:17; cf. Leviticus 20:9). When Pilate calls attention to his authority to crucify him, Jesus points out that Pilate’s power comes to him from above that is to say, from God (John 19:11). Jesus commends the good thief on the cross next to him, who has admitted that he and his fellow thief are receiving the due reward of their deeds (Luke 23:41).

      The early Christians evidently had nothing against the death penalty. They approve of the divine punishment meted out to Ananias and Sapphira when they are rebuked by Peter for their fraudulent action (Acts 5:1-11). The Letter to the Hebrews makes an argument from the fact that “a man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses” (10:28). Paul repeatedly refers to the connection between sin and death. He writes to the Romans, with an apparent reference to the death penalty, that the magistrate who holds authority “does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute His wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). No passage in the New Testament disapproves of the death penalty.

      Turning to Christian tradition, we may note that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church are virtually unanimous in their support for capital punishment, even though some of them such as St. Ambrose exhort members of the clergy not to pronounce capital sentences or serve as executioners. To answer the objection that the first commandment forbids killing, St. Augustine writes in The City of God:

      The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to law or the rule of rational justice.

      In the Middle Ages a number of canonists teach that ecclesiastical courts should refrain from the death penalty and that civil courts should impose it only for major crimes. But leading canonists and theologians assert the right of civil courts to pronounce the death penalty for very grave offenses such as murder and treason. Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus invoke the authority of Scripture and patristic tradition, and give arguments from reason.

      Giving magisterial authority to the death penalty, Pope Innocent III required disciples of Peter Waldo seeking reconciliation with the Church to accept the proposition: “The secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation.” In the high Middle Ages and early modern times the Holy See authorized the Inquisition to turn over heretics to the secular arm for execution. In the Papal States the death penalty was imposed for a variety of offenses. The Roman Catechism, issued in 1566, three years after the end of the Council of Trent, taught that the power of life and death had been entrusted by God to civil authorities and that the use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to the fifth commandment.
      In modern times Doctors of the Church such as Robert Bellarmine and Alphonsus Liguori held that certain criminals should be punished by death. Venerable authorities such as Francisco de Vitoria, Thomas More, and Francisco Suárez agreed. John Henry Newman, in a letter to a friend, maintained that the magistrate had the right to bear the sword, and that the Church should sanction its use, in the sense that Moses, Joshua, and Samuel used it against abominable crimes.

      Throughout the first half of the twentieth century the consensus of Catholic theologians in favor of capital punishment in extreme cases remained solid, as may be seen from approved textbooks and encyclopedia articles of the day. The Vatican City State from 1929 until 1969 had a penal code that included the death penalty for anyone who might attempt to assassinate the pope. Pope Pius XII, in an important allocution to medical experts, declared that it was reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life in expiation of their crimes.

      Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.

      Yet, as we have seen, a rising chorus of voices in the Catholic community has raised objections to capital punishment. Some take the absolutist position that because the right to life is sacred and inviolable, the death penalty is always wrong