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The case of Adolf Eichmann shows that the death penalty can be just

His crimes were of the gravest nature; his life was an affront to the families of those who died in the Holocaust

By on Thursday, 7 April 2011

Adolf Eichmann is flanked by guards in the Jerusalem courtroom where he was tried for war crimes (AP Photo)

Adolf Eichmann is flanked by guards in the Jerusalem courtroom where he was tried for war crimes (AP Photo)

Turning on the car radio yesterday, I chanced on the end of a Radio 4 programme – the sort that makes you park the car and carry on listening. It was broadcaster Gavin Esler in Jerusalem, examining “the legacy of Adolf Eichmann” on the 50th anniversary of his trial and execution. Everyone who followed that trial will recall the kidnapping of Eichmann by Mossad agents from Buenos Aires in 1961, as a result of a tip-off from agents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. They will remember the book about Eichmann’s trial by Hannah Arendt, in which she coined the phrase “the banality of evil”. They will visualise the black and white newspaper photographs of a bespectacled, balding, elderly man in the dock of the courtroom – the man who had been the chief organiser of the deportation of millions of Jews to the death camps in Poland. They will have pondered Eichmann’s main defence: “I was simply carrying out orders.”

I tuned in as the three judges in the Israeli court sentenced him to death by hanging for crimes against the Jewish people; crimes against humanity; and war crimes. Those like me who followed the news at the time thought the verdict a foregone conclusion – not unlike the verdicts at the Nuremberg Trials, which Eichmann had successfully evaded by escaping to South America. The sentence was carried out on May 30 1962. It was followed by cremation, with the ashes scattered in the sea outside Israel’s territorial waters.

Why am I writing all this? Because it made me ponder the whole question (yet again) of the morality of capital punishment. Many Catholics think that capital punishment is now forbidden by the Church. Certainly the late pope, John Paul II, in his public statements about it, seemed to indicate that civilised countries should now have recourse to other means of punishment. Other people condemn capital punishment under a general pro-life banner which lumps together the adult guilty, like Eichmann, and the unborn who are innocent.

Personally, I make a distinction between these two categories. Guilt does require some form of punishment and justice must be seen to be done – whereas abortion is always the death of the innocent. Just checking the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I see that on page 488, paragraph 2266, it states: “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty…”

Writing as a Christian, I am sympathetic to the Israeli trial and execution of this man, proved beyond doubt to have organised mass murder. In the radio programme, Esler interviewed Michael Goldman-Gilad, survivor of Auschwitz and the Israeli police interrogator of Eichmann during his trial. Now in his 80s, Goldman-Gilad said, “We hanged one person; we couldn’t hang him six million times”, thus recognising the symbolic aspect of the trial and execution. He did not sound vengeful, simply adding “I felt relieved” after it was all over.

As I see it, Eichmann’s continued life was a challenge to Israel’s collective memory of suffering; it was an affront to the families of those for whose death he had responsibility, families who wanted justice; his crimes were of the gravest nature. The death penalty was, in this case, appropriate.

  • Father Maurer

    test

  • Oferdesade

    in his case (and many others) the death sentence is totally unjustified: it is too quick and too easy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dpearson4751 Douglas Pearson

    If you want to know what the Catholic Church has to say about Capitol Punishment, read St. Augustine (The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21), St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2) and maybe just for fun Google “St. Pius V death penalty for gay clergy.” The Traditional teaching of the Church has no compunction regarding the use of Capitol Punishment.

    No Catholic has to support the use of Capitol Punishment though and I think it laudable to desire to be merciful… but not at the expense of justice which the state has the responsibility and authority from God to maintain. See St. Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 13.

    The views expressed by JPII were his opinion in this regard and he never attempted to modify the traditional Church teaching from the “Chair of Peter.” I think it is easy to see where JPII was coming from though, as he grew up watching the Nazi’s and Soviets killing millions upon millions of people.

    Many highly place Churchmen have no such excuse for their muddle-headed comingling of abortion and capital punishment… it comes from their desire to by politically correct and the false notion that we must be against CP if we hope to convince the culture that abortion is wrong. When in doubt, always go back to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and if you are still confused you can rely on the plain words of scripture.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    “If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons …”

    Eichmann’s exile, for instance? Or, in another case, a certain film maker’s marriage.

    “It seems reasonable to conclude that the death penalty is never to be considered in the light of punishment.”

    Not so. Without guilt there would be no option to punish, and hence no option to consider his interests against the safety of others, of innocents.

    “And rightly so, because human emotions pervert punishment into vengeance, which wasn’t ours to begin with.”

    A judge who is legitimate in a legitimate state is not doing vengeance in his own name, but ultimately in the name of God’s option for human justice. Vide et Romans ch. 13.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    ah, I do call Gauss a heretic in mathematics.

    “3i X 3i = -9″ is raving nonsense, and it is Gauss

  • HGL

    “What if the murderer is a corrupting influence on other inmates less wicked than he is and whose rehabilitation he might interfere with?”

    “Corrupting influences are not life-threatening – and are simple to address, though difficult given the modern desire to put simply such influences out of sight & mind, rather than working to try to tailor correction that may result in a change of heart. And short of that lofty goal, solitary confinement can easily prevent such influences.”

    OK, that Hannibal Lector as potential corruptor of other inmates. How about Hannibal Lector as corruptor of guardians?

  • http://twitter.com/WKNDLibertarian Weekend Libertarian

    I agree (non-Catholic speaking). I don’t believe Jesus was a pacifist either – especially when he threatened people with physical punishments here on earth and beyond. Too many people have feminized Jesus because they can’t deal with a working-class carpenter, in my view.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Pius V & X maintained the teaching that the victim of execution was offering themselves up as a form of penance – accepting temporal punishment for the sake of society and their soul – BUT NOT as Punishment by God or the Church – their Death was not demanded by them!!!

    Exactly. Which is why I feel queezy about diehard chasers of criminals. If God lets a criminal escape what would usually be the punishment of the state, he can very well be saved by some other penance. And in cases where one has been escaping for years, that is, especially for Catholics, even probable.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    In that case: would a canonisation of John Paul II imply no endorsement of his entire doctrine, especially where not directly and without qualification equal to the traditional one, or would it?

  • http://shrt.st/ujx Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Repeating the trial every decade to remind him of what he had done? So when does he get to go on with his life after repentance (in the assumption that he might have)?

    One reason to prefer death penalty over psychiatry or lifetime? Those things as much as a decades belated death penalty when he had been living peacfully in a foreign country where his former victims had little occasion to be offended, are obstacles to getting on with life after penance.

    Poor people, those who suffer in secret of secret societies repeating and repeating trials of their characters in the case when public and justice do not know the crime, or these societies think justice charged too little of criminal!

  • Anonymous

    REVELATION VS PROPHECY

    When you say that you read my entire comment, does that include the two links? Did you read Father Gruner’s article on Fatima as public prophecy? I’m especially keen to know the answer to this question.

    Incidentally, nobody, including Father Gruner, ever claimed there was any new “revelation” in the Fatima prophecies – that is not possible, as every Catholic should know. Prophecy, however, is a different matter and, as indicated by St Paul in the Thess. quote I provided, those of us living in the wake of the New Testament are forbidden to ignore prophecy but instructed to test it and hold fast to that which is good about it. Fatima has been tested, well and truly, and everything prophesied, except the annihilation of nations, has come true. Let’s pray the only unfulfilled prophecy does not come true.

    Have you read about Fatima? Are you up to date with the literature/scholarship? Do you think the Church has beatified two little liars, Francisco and Jacinta, two of the three Fatima seers? Above all, do you believe that Fatima is true? That Our Lady appeared there and said what she is alleged to have said? If she appeared there and said what she said, is that not authoritative? After all, she is hardly likely to have escaped Heaven and spoken as she did, without it being God’s will – is she? Pope Benedict himself said on 13 May last year IN Fatima, that “those who think that the Fatima message is in the past, are deceived.” http://www.fatima.org is the best site available on the subject. Check it out.

    CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

    I’ve never argued to go beyond the Church’s teaching on capital punishment – I’ve merely commented on the way Catholics – like the rest of society – have taken a position hostile to the very idea of capital punishment. That is not the Church’s position – as you know.

    Your comment about Christ’s coming making the “severity” of the Old Testament (i.e. God) obsolete, will be news to God.

    This is clearly to suggest that God’s attribute of righteous anger was made obsolete with Christ.
    Since God is unchangeable, this puzzles me. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, so in case so, will you answer the following two questions, please:

    1) Did the coming of Christ dispense with any of God’s other attributes, or was in only His righteous anger, often “severe” that was made obsolete by Christ?

    2) Does it go against God’s revealed nature, for Him to punish evil-doing in the world?

    3) Does God command nature? (could He cause a tsunami and the sun to hurtle towards earth as happened at Fatima?)

    Finally, I don’t think it is “really incomprehensible and inscrutable” at all for God to forgive even the most heinous sinners, as you say. Indeed, we should take that for theological granted, so to speak, given the fact of Christ’s life and death on this earth, for this very purpose.

    No, what is truly incomprehensible and inscrutable” is that God, who truly loves each soul as if it were the only soul in the world, nevertheless allows evil and suffering to afflict us and, on occasion, will punish the world and its inhabitants, for the greater good of souls who might otherwise lost their eternal salvation. THAT’S incomprehensibility and inscrutability for you.

  • Father Maurer

    Popes don’t have doctrines themselves, remember.

    Canonization only speaks to the fact that a person is in heaven and therefore, their worthiness of veneration.

  • Father Maurer

    Yup. And if you read my comment, that wasn’t the point.

  • Weary Convert

    I said remind “the world” not remind “him” i.e. use Eichmann’s trial to remind the world of the horrors for which he had been greatly responsible. Perhaps, had you read my comment correctly, your response might have been different but then looking at all the posts and counter-posts and all the rest meantime, I am now in complete doubt as to what your position really is. But then this hardly matters as I see that one person whose extravagent postings have been a feature of this website since I came across it, does indeed seem to come into the category of a borderline Holcaust denier so how can one continue an intelligent discussion with such a person waiting in the wings?

  • Father Maurer

    I didn’t read the links, and won’t be. I provide links as references to lend authority to what I’m saying (ie, its not my opinion, but the Church teaching), not as part of the conversation itself.

    Similarly, I’m not going to enter into a separate discussion on private revelation. My point in addressing it initially is that it doesn’t have bearing on the current point and is not part of the deposit of faith. It is worthy of belief, but not central to it. In this case, we are discussing something that is addressed by the Church: what is really the purpose of capital punish.

    1) I’ll concede that ‘obsolete’ may carry too much baggage, possibly implying the negation an aspect of God. The sense to be conveyed in what I’m saying is that these things have fulfilled their purpose in Christ. All things point to Christ, and we go from Him. Christ wasn’t about severity – at least in this life – He was about suffering on our behalf so that we might receive God’s mercy. The severity is His to dole out, and will be at the last judgment.

    2) Nope. And I’m sure He does in varying ways. The point is that we don’t have the knowledge of God’s will to declare what is His punishment and what is a natural evil.

    3) Yup. And again, we don’t know how He uses those – or if He allows a world broken by sin to run its course without directly influencing every event. An imperfect analogy: the clockmaker doesn’t will every movement of the hands. And he may permit a broken clock to wind out completely so that he can effect its repair. God is surely more involved than a clockmaker, but also permissive in the course of not only humanity’s free will, but creation’s natural course.

    My whole point in this conversation is that CCC 2266 & CCC 2267 (with recourse to Evangelium vitae) spell out the purpose of and circumstances for capital punishment. In first world countries of modern times, we have recourse to methods of safeguarding people from aggressors without killing them and we are obligated to do so. The author’s point that the dealth penalty was justified in the case of Adolf Eichmann doesn’t jive with that teaching.

    In the course of about 24 hours, we’ve danced around this teaching. Either its right or its not. If its not, then authoritative proof from the deposit of faith needs to be produced – not only to assert what IS the true purpose of and circumstances for the death penalty, but also to explain why the Church has made its current statements in the Catechism and an encyclical.

    This is the core of the issue, and it remains unchallenged.

  • Anonymous

    The links I provided were provided with the express purpose of disproving you thesis that God does not punish in these modern times so it is disingenuous to say you won’t read them in order not to be diverted form the topic.

    And the only person dancing around this topic is you.

    Are there any other teachings that you consider not to be of the deposit of the Faith, that you reject?

  • Father Maurer

    We’re not talking about God’s punishment, nor about my adherence to faith.

    We’re talking about capital punishment and the Church’s teaching on it.

  • Johnsmith

    I can’t condone kidnapping a man away from his family, bringing him to Israel where he had no chance at anything but the death penalty, hanging him and not even letting the family have his body, but scattering his ashes at sea. The Catholic Church does not allow scattering of ashes like that.

    I can see both sides of the issue, Eichmann was responsible for planning of a terrible mass genocide. But what happened to him I can’t condone. He could have been sent to prison for life.

  • Dany

    “We make up for what is ‘lacking’ in suffering and in purgation”???

    I like most of what you’re saying on this thread, but wonder where you got that from ?

  • Torkay

    “It seems reasonable to conclude that the death penalty is never to be considered in the light of punishment. And rightly so, because human emotions pervert punishment into vengeance, which wasn’t ours to begin with.”

    This is not a reasonable conclusion at all. Here is what the Catechism of the Council of Trent says on this:

    “Execution Of Criminals

    Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment­ is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord.”

    Moreover, you seem to think that the modern State has effectively repressed crime by the non-lethal means at its disposal. What is your basis for this conclusion, since violent crime is now an unchecked epidemic among most nations formerly known as “Western Civilization”?

  • http://theonetruefaith-faith.blogspot.com Faith

    You are not the Judge. Remember there is only one person that Jesus promised heaven to, and that person was a condemned criminal–Dismas. Leave judgement to God and always choose life.

  • Rosary15

    Father I just want to raise a little issue with you as to your assertion that Fatima is a private revelation.
    Fatima is not a private revelation as some people would have you believe. Unfortunately, even conservative and orthodox and otherwise very learned men have made this mistake of calling Fatima a private revelation. It is not a private revelation in the sense they are using the word. It is a prophetic revelation. What is the difference?
    Bishop Graber of Germany has pointed out that there are three kinds of revelation that come from God. The first kind is what is contained in the Deposit of Faith and is found in either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. The Deposit of Faith is revealed by God and must be believed by the faithful of all generations in order to save their souls. The Deposit of Faith cannot be changed by the Apostles or their successors (or by anyone else in the Church) but only explained and passed on to the next generation whole and entire. All of what is contained in the Deposit of Faith was revealed by God by the time of the death of the last Apostle, St. John, about the year 100 A.D.
    The second kind is a private revelation. If I had received a vision of Our Lady and told you that I did that would be a private revelation to me and you would not be bound to believe that I had seen this vision, even if I told you.
    The third kind is called a public prophetic revelation which obliges not only the seer or the person receiving the message but also obliges the Church as well. This is found in Sacred Scripture in any number of places. Our obligation is also referred to in Sacred Scripture.
    One of the best passages that I am aware of is that of Saint Paul in the 5th chapter of 1st Thessalonians, verse 22. He sums it up there in a nut shell which I think is very well for us all to remember, “do not extinguish the Holy Spirit”. That is his first command.
    Sister Lucy speaking about the actual despising of the Message of Fatima refers to it as a sin against the Holy Spirit. You can understand why she has been silenced for more than 32 years. That was the last time she spoke in public. She spoke too plainly.
    Does the Church have an obligation to listen to the demands of Our Lady of Fatima: Yes or No? If you ask an ordinary member of the Church he will probably reply with the common sense of faith: ‘But of course’. And he will be quite right. For after all if the Mother of God goes God out of Her way to speak to us, the very least we must do is to obey Her as our Mother.’ Whether we be humble lay brothers or office clerks or even the Pope himself, in relation to the Mother of God we are all equally Mary’s children, and if She gives us instructions we should obey them. That is precisely how it is.
    There is nevertheless a difficulty in demonstrating this obligation of obedience to the Blessed Virgin. It derives first of all from the fact that these Messages from Mary are something relatively recent in the history of the Church. They date back only to the 19th Century. Before then, it is true, there was the Message of the Sacred Heart. And going still further back through history, it can be seen that ever since the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ there have been ‘prophecies’ in the Church. And if we use this word ‘prophecies’ we may find an answer to our first question, and a. fresh approach to resolve, the problem.
    For up to now the difficulty experienced in this matter consisted in the fact that everything outside the Gospel revelation, the deposit of faith, which alone is the object of theological faith, of baptismal faith, all else was thought of as being in the category of ‘private revelations’ made to ‘privileged souls’. And concerning these private revelations one was more or less free to believe or to not believe, to accept or to reject them. The privileged person concerned may have an obligation to believe what has been revealed to him, but certain theologians would not even insist on this, astonishing though this may seem. And that is as far as theologians would go. The teachings of the popes from Benedict XIV to St. Pius X were that the Church ‘allows’ one to believe, with human faith only, the messages of these revelations given in private apparitions.
    However, for some time, Deo Gratias, theologians such as Père Balic, President of the International Marian Academy in Rome, and Bishops and Cardinals such as Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon (and thus responsible for Fatima) in short voices of considerable authority, have been heard to say; “But that is not enough.” If God speaks in this way, something more is needed than simple human faith and freedom of choice as to the response. How to formulate this ‘something more’ theologically: that is the difficulty. There may be ‘private revelations’ communicated to individuals for their personal good. But there are also ‘public prophecies’ given to the Church, affecting its conduct and the conduct of its members.
    If we now turn to the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul, we find astonishing words like the following from the letter to the Ephesians (2,20) where the Church is referred to as ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone’. Now the content indicates that what is meant here is prophets of the New Testament. And if we take the Acts of the Apostles as a whole, and if we re-read the history of the Church, we notice that alongside the Apostolic Charismata (that is to say of the hierarchical priestly ministry) there have always been prophetic charismata to back up, to guide and to direct the apostolic ministry in its mission. Such is the essential truth. Let us add that the hierarchy and the prophet are both subordinate to the Word of God, to the Gospel of Christ, but in different and complementary ways. It is true that ultimate authority belongs to the hierarchy, to the Bishop, to the Pope. However, the Pope must listen to the Prophet. St. Paul says (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21): ‘Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies but prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.’
    Such ace the words of the New Testament. Such is the will of God on the basis of which one can and must affirm that prophecy is integral to the economy, to the conduct of the people of the New Covenant, and that prophecy is essential to the life of the Church.”
    It is so in the following manner: the priest, the Pope must discern — that- is his duty — whether the words of the prophet are of God. But once he has judged and recognized that a given prophecy is indeed from God, then he must obey, not as obeying the prophet but as obeying God, whose instrument the prophet is. This, I think, is the theological way of showing that one is not free when faced with a prophetic message once it has been recognized as Divine in origin, but on the contrary, that it is a duty to receive it and to submit to it. That is why it is the duty of the Pope, bishops and the Faithful to obey Our Lady and to fulfill the commands which Our Lady of Fatima made. Which duty is none other than integral to their pastoral and apostolic obligations.
    I think that this is a most important aspect of Fatima for us to understand, because all of us are faced with a choice. It is a choice we cannot escape. We can either accept and obey the Message of Our Lady of Fatima or we can reject it. God gives us freedom. But I think that we should know the consequence of ignoring the Message of Our Lady of Fatima.
    The consequences of ignoring it, of disobeying Our Lady are also very clear to us. Our Lady of Fatima said, “If my requests are not granted, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world raising up wars and persecutions against the Church, many will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”
    Anybody looking about himself at the state of the Church and the world today and does not see that the prophetic Message of Fatima is unfolding before our eyes, suffers from spiritual blindness and is self delusional. For as to the unfolding history of Fatima we are past the either stage (either you do this) and are now witnessing the unfolding of the or stage (or this will happen).
    Pope Benedict himself was trying to address this when at Fatima in May of 2010 he stated for the whole world to hear “Whoever thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is over; IS DECEIVED.” And also exclaimed “May these 7 years that divide us from the centennial of the apparitions bring forth soon the FORESEEN TRIUMPH OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY.”
    Pope John Paul 11 made the following still relevant statements at Fatima.
    “The Appeal of Our Lady of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the message imposes a commitment on Her.”
    “Our Lady’s message at Fatima remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was 65 years ago. It is still more urgent”
    St. Thomas Aquinas tells us in the second part of the second section of his Summa Theologica that God sends prophets to every generation, not to give a new doctrine but to remind the faithful what they must do to save their souls. It’s an extra grace, God did not have to send us the prophetic Message of Fatima, but He did. But once He gives this prophesy, we pay the consequences by either accepting or rejecting it. There is no third alternative. So we are bound before God, all of us, to obey. The Pope, the bishops, the clergy and the faithful are all obligated to listen and obey Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady promises that She will grant peace to the world only when the Pope and the bishops consecrate specifically Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This has not been done!
    So Father instead of leading the faithful to believe that as far as the Requests of Our Lady of Fatima go, they can like it or lump it, why not try obey the requests of Heaven, promote the Rosary, the Five First Saturdays, people to amend their lives and the Pope with all the bishops to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
    Pray the Rosary!
    Do the Five First Saturdays!
    Pray much for the Holy Father!

  • Bonydiver

    It is apparent from the above article of another example of the doctrines of the catholic church overriding scripture. We learn that pg:466 Par 2266 states whatever the RCC legislators determined at whatever period in history that was which clearly doesn’t fit in with the considerations of the Pope of more recent period. The point being that the catechism is riddled with the false doctrines. Notwithstanding the finer points of execution or death sentences, the catechism is a book that one should most definitely not turn to as a source of scriptural fact and evidence

  • Anonymous

    Correcting error Our Lady’s message at Fatima remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was 65 years ago. It is still more urgent”

    That should read 94 years ago

  • Anonymous

    Father I just want to raise a little issue with you as to your assertion that Fatima is a private revelation.
    Fatima is not a private revelation as some people would have you believe. Unfortunately, even conservative and orthodox and otherwise very learned men have made this mistake of calling Fatima a private revelation. It is not a private revelation in the sense they are using the word. It is a prophetic revelation. What is the difference?
    Bishop Graber of Germany has pointed out that there are three kinds of revelation that come from God. The first kind is what is contained in the Deposit of Faith and is found in either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. The Deposit of Faith is revealed by God and must be believed by the faithful of all generations in order to save their souls. The Deposit of Faith cannot be changed by the Apostles or their successors (or by anyone else in the Church) but only explained and passed on to the next generation whole and entire. All of what is contained in the Deposit of Faith was revealed by God by the time of the death of the last Apostle, St. John, about the year 100 A.D.
    The second kind is a private revelation. If I had received a vision of Our Lady and told you that I did that would be a private revelation to me and you would not be bound to believe that I had seen this vision, even if I told you.
    The third kind is called a public prophetic revelation which obliges not only the seer or the person receiving the message but also obliges the Church as well. This is found in Sacred Scripture in any number of places. Our obligation is also referred to in Sacred Scripture.
    One of the best passages that I am aware of is that of Saint Paul in the 5th chapter of 1st Thessalonians, verse 22. He sums it up there in a nut shell which I think is very well for us all to remember, “do not extinguish the Holy Spirit”. That is his first command.
    Sister Lucy speaking about the actual despising of the Message of Fatima refers to it as a sin against the Holy Spirit. That was the last time she spoke in public. She spoke too plainly.
    Does the Church have an obligation to listen to the demands of Our Lady of Fatima: Yes or No? If you ask an ordinary member of the Church he will probably reply with the common sense of faith: ‘But of course’. And he will be quite right. For after all if the Mother of God goes God out of Her way to speak to us, the very least we must do is to obey Her as our Mother.’ Whether we be humble lay brothers or office clerks or even the Pope himself, in relation to the Mother of God we are all equally Mary’s children, and if She gives us instructions we should obey them. That is precisely how it is.
    There is nevertheless a difficulty in demonstrating this obligation of obedience to the Blessed Virgin. It derives first of all from the fact that these Messages from Mary are something relatively recent in the history of the Church. They date back only to the 19th Century. Before then, it is true, there was the Message of the Sacred Heart. And going still further back through history, it can be seen that ever since the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ there have been ‘prophecies’ in the Church. And if we use this word ‘prophecies’ we may find an answer to our first question, and a. fresh approach to resolve, the problem.
    For up to now the difficulty experienced in this matter consisted in the fact that everything outside the Gospel revelation, the deposit of faith, which alone is the object of theological faith, of baptismal faith, all else was thought of as being in the category of ‘private revelations’ made to ‘privileged souls’. And concerning these private revelations one was more or less free to believe or to not believe, to accept or to reject them. The privileged person concerned may have an obligation to believe what has been revealed to him, but certain theologians would not even insist on this, astonishing though this may seem. And that is as far as theologians would go. The teachings of the popes from Benedict XIV to St. Pius X were that the Church ‘allows’ one to believe, with human faith only, the messages of these revelations given in private apparitions.
    However, for some time, Deo Gratias, theologians such as Père Balic, President of the International Marian Academy in Rome, and Bishops and Cardinals such as Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon (and thus responsible for Fatima) in short voices of considerable authority, have been heard to say; “But that is not enough.” If God speaks in this way, something more is needed than simple human faith and freedom of choice as to the response. How to formulate this ‘something more’ theologically: that is the difficulty. There may be ‘private revelations’ communicated to individuals for their personal good. But there are also ‘public prophecies’ given to the Church, affecting its conduct and the conduct of its members.
    If we now turn to the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul, we find astonishing words like the following from the letter to the Ephesians (2,20) where the Church is referred to as ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone’. Now the content indicates that what is meant here is prophets of the New Testament. And if we take the Acts of the Apostles as a whole, and if we re-read the history of the Church, we notice that alongside the Apostolic Charismata (that is to say of the hierarchical priestly ministry) there have always been prophetic charismata to back up, to guide and to direct the apostolic ministry in its mission. Such is the essential truth. Let us add that the hierarchy and the prophet are both subordinate to the Word of God, to the Gospel of Christ, but in different and complementary ways. It is true that ultimate authority belongs to the hierarchy, to the Bishop, to the Pope. However, the Pope must listen to the Prophet. St. Paul says (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21): ‘Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies but prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.’
    Such ace the words of the New Testament. Such is the will of God on the basis of which one can and must affirm that prophecy is integral to the economy, to the conduct of the people of the New Covenant, and that prophecy is essential to the life of the Church.”
    It is so in the following manner: the priest, the Pope must discern — that- is his duty — whether the words of the prophet are of God. But once he has judged and recognized that a given prophecy is indeed from God, then he must obey, not as obeying the prophet but as obeying God, whose instrument the prophet is. This, I think, is the theological way of showing that one is not free when faced with a prophetic message once it has been recognized as Divine in origin, but on the contrary, that it is a duty to receive it and to submit to it. That is why it is the duty of the Pope, bishops and the Faithful to obey Our Lady and to fulfill the commands which Our Lady of Fatima made. Which duty is none other than integral to their pastoral and apostolic obligations.
    I think that this is a most important aspect of Fatima for us to understand, because all of us are faced with a choice. It is a choice we cannot escape. We can either accept and obey the Message of Our Lady of Fatima or we can reject it. God gives us freedom. But I think that we should know the consequence of ignoring the Message of Our Lady of Fatima.
    The consequences of ignoring it, of disobeying Our Lady are also very clear to us. Our Lady of Fatima said, “If my requests are not granted, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world raising up wars and persecutions against the Church, many will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”
    Anybody looking about himself at the state of the Church and the world today and does not see that the prophetic Message of Fatima is unfolding before our eyes, suffers from spiritual blindness and is self delusional. For as to the unfolding history of Fatima we are past the either stage (either you do this) and are now witnessing the unfolding of the or stage (or this will happen).
    Pope Benedict himself was trying to address this when at Fatima in May of 2010 he stated for the whole world to hear “Whoever thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is over; IS DECEIVED.” And also exclaimed “May these 7 years that divide us from the centennial of the apparitions bring forth soon the FORESEEN TRIUMPH OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY.”
    Pope John Paul 11 made the following still relevant statements at Fatima.
    “The Appeal of Our Lady of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the message imposes a commitment on Her.”
    “Our Lady’s message at Fatima remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was 94 years ago. It is still more urgent”
    St. Thomas Aquinas tells us in the second part of the second section of his Summa Theologica that God sends prophets to every generation, not to give a new doctrine but to remind the faithful what they must do to save their souls. It’s an extra grace, God did not have to send us the prophetic Message of Fatima, but He did. But once He gives this prophesy, we pay the consequences by either accepting or rejecting it. There is no third alternative. So we are bound before God, all of us, to obey. The Pope, the bishops, the clergy and the faithful are all obligated to listen and obey Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady promises that She will grant peace to the world only when the Pope and the bishops consecrate specifically Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This has not been done!
    So Father instead of leading the faithful to believe that as far as the Requests of Our Lady of Fatima go, they can like it or lump it, why not try obey the requests of Heaven, promote the Rosary, the Five First Saturdays, people to amend their lives and the Pope with all the bishops to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
    Pray the Rosary!
    Do the Five First Saturdays!
    Pray much for the Holy Father!

  • Father Maurer

    That Fatima is private revelation is something declared by the Church from the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith’s document The Message of Fatima.

    The same document clearly points to only two forms of revelation: public or private.

  • Father Maurer

    See my reply above.

  • Father Maurer

    To be clear – I am not saying that we can dismiss the appearance and message of Our Lady at Fatima.

    I am saying that it can not be the basis of any doctrinal position – and that we are not bound to believe it – because it is not part of public revelation. That is the point I made previously, and the only point I intended.

  • Father Maurer

    To be clear – I am not saying that we can dismiss the appearance and message of Our Lady at Fatima.

    I am saying that it can not be the basis of any doctrinal position – and that we are not bound to believe it – because it is not part of public revelation. That is the point I made previously, and the only point I intended.

  • Father Maurer

    In Colossians 1:24 Saint Paul speaks to our participation in salvation through our suffering – that he (and by extension, all Christians) could contribution to Christ’s saving work by joining himself to Christ’s cross. The ‘lacking’ reference is to the language he uses.

    I would also add that we make up what is lacking through our time in purgatory – inasmuch as we ourselves are lacking in perfection, and make up for it by being made perfect through that time of purification.

  • Father Maurer

    That’s a lot of speculation, that can’t be proven one way or the other, about how God works with free will and in the course of human history.

    More to the point, we’re still at the conclusion that Christ’s death on the cross – having assumed our sins and their just punishment – negates the demand of God for the death of sinners (no matter what their sins) in this life.

    The example of Amalek stands true because it was before Christ’s saving work. There are no examples after because Christ was the example made by God.

  • Tiggy

    Seems to me the fifth commandment just says “Thou shalt not kill” Not much room for dissention there!

  • RJ

    Yes, but even that has to be interpreted: after all, if we look at the context in which this commandment was given, we can’t ignore the fact that the Jewish law mandated the death penalty for certain moral crimes, so clearly the fifth commandment did not exclude such a penalty.

  • Father Maurer

    The current catechism doesn’t speak of the death penalty in light of punishment. See CCC 2267 & Evangelium vitae 56.

    I don’t think that the modern State has effectively repressed crime.

  • Father Maurer

    I take it you’re not Catholic?

  • Johnasburton

    John O’CALLAGHAN

    As with Fr. Maurer, we know that Revelation ended with St. John. Nevertheless Prophecy is not just another scary story,to be read and put back on the bookshelf, it reveals its prophecies in both events and actions as we journey towards Christ as Redeemer, or terrifyingly, as Judge. Revelation unfolds in these actions and events. Farmers observe the seasons and their signs, Christ commanded we likewise watch for the “signs of the times”. Christ foretold Jerusalem’s destruction and signs preceding it.Christians took heed, obeyed, and lived. Others didn’t, and died. The foolish virgins slept, ignoring the signs.

    Fatima is not one of the signs, it is THE SIGN. Untruthful opposition and perverse use of authority from Cardinals Sodana and Bertone failed. Now Pope Benedict reveals the truth, vindicating the ” Fatimists” so-called. Our Loving God does not just warn, His love reaches out for us. He no longer sends just any prophet, He sends His best, His own Mother. Lest we forget, Is She not our Mother also?

    Our Lady came Quito to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. Her prophecies relating to the 20th. century have come to, or are passing. As another sign, Mother Mariana’s body remains uncorrupted after three hundred years. We have Akita and La Salette. Fatima is,nonetheless, where the miracle of the sun danced its way into our minds and hearts. With respect to Fr. Maurer, does he think that the Mother of God on that day was having a special-effects competition with Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas?.

    At Fatima, the Lady in White wrote Her credentials in the Sky using the Sun as her pen. We had better crane our necks, look upwards, and read what She wrote. She was also the same lady who wept at La Salette because her priests would betray her and lead many into the great sea of fire shown to the Three Children by this same Mother. A major problem with today’s clerics, high and low, is that they are ashamed of the supernatural.

  • Margaret

    “Thou shalt not kill” – there was no small print to this commandment!

  • RJ

    See my comment below.

  • Father Maurer

    We can set up a lot of hypothetical situations, but the Catechism is very clear about when capital punishment is to be used.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Popes can have doctrines as received from Church, or as private persons, speaking in private capacity. Antipopes may also have false doctrines like the case of antipope Donatus.

    If St Hippolytos was antipope before being martyr, the fact of canonising or beatifying a person seen by many as pope is not an endorsement of his having been such?

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Hannibal Lector, as being fiction, is hypothetical. The case, I took him as an example, to my mind is not.

    Lots of prisoners who would previously have been killed for their crimes are sentenced to some kind of – in the end, when psychiatry is involved – “reprogramming”. I believe it is very corrupting for a man to reprogram people against their will, even if their deeds have deserved them not to have their will.

    I believe it is worse to be a reprogrammer than to be a henchman, and that a man sentenced to years of psychiatric internment requires more reprogrammers to be corrupt than who would previously have been involved as henchmen or close to such, the weeks it took before a death sentence was executed.

    I believe this is more degrading both for society at large where more people “reprogramming” are around and better respected than henchmen of old, and also I believe this to be more degrading for the criminal himself.

    This nowise implies I believe all heavy criminals are irredeemable or redeemable only by a henchman. It does imply that touching a man’s soul to redeem him is the business of the Holy Ghost and not of human expertise, and to believe otherwise is heavily idolatrous.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    Scattering his ashes was probably done by Jewish superstition that this impedes resurrection.

    It is not in Hezekiel but in the Apocalypse that we find affirmation that the sea shall give up its dead – so Jews may be presuming that any Jew cremated 1940 – 1945 is impeded from rising on Judgement day. They wanted to annihilate him too.

  • J Lopuszynski

    “i” is defined as the square root of -1

    The square root of a number multiplied by itself brings you back to the original number, hence “i x i” is simply “square root of -1″ multiplied by “square root of -1 ” will give the answer “-1″.

    “3i x 3i” is the same as “3 x i x 3 x i” which is the same as “3 x 3 x i x i”.

    3 x 3 x i x i = 9 x i x i

    As i x i = -1,

    9 x i x i = 9 x -1 = -1

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVZLEPV6I5SNCNNJIS4JZ32WQY Jacques

    I personally am favorable to death penalty.
    But those catholics who oppose say that one cannot kill anyone because every man must be given a chance to repent even i it is at the very last moment of his life. Who may declare that Eichmann never would repent?
    In fact the RC Church never forbade the death penalty.
    The death penalty is an ultimate means that a society has to protect itself against dangerous individuals, not only against those who are guilty of serious crimes, but in giving a strong signal against those who are tempted to imitate them.

  • SomeMightSay

    Father Maurer sums this up very well – the use of the death penalty for a felon in custody is in practical terms incompatible with Catholic doctrine – no matter what the crime. Adolf Eichmann should have seen out his days in Spandau, and in seeing this extraordinary display of restraint on the part of the Israeli people – he might even have seen the Lord in their actions and repented.

  • Dany

    Thanks for that! I did subsequently find the concept in Colossians. It’s still a strange concept to my mind…

  • Father Maurer

    I’m right there with you! The way we use lacking implies a deficiency in the subject – but we know that nothing is deficient about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. On the face of it, Saint Paul sounds, well, wrong.

    On the other hand, what is lacking is our cooperation in that saving work, both individually and as a race. In that sense, we could easily agree that Christ’s salvific act on the cross is not complete: it is lacking in us! In light of this, I think Saint Paul’s words make great sense and encourage us to take up our part in salvation and evangelization.

  • Anonymous

    Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
    Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

    I think in discussing this issue it is incorrect to simply look at the extreme cases, how about all the many put to death and then found to be wrongfully convicted? Last November it was found that the piece of evidence used to convict Claude Jones of murder in 2000 was not conclusive and could not be convicted. It was too late as he had already been put to death.

    Even if no mistakes were made, surely it is up to God to decide and judge. Opponents of euthanasia say that only God can decide when you die. This is why the Church also sees suicide as a grave and serious sin. I fail to see how the same logic is not applied to the death penalty – where is God’s permission for the life to be taken?

  • Anonymous

    “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty…”

    Eichmann – and so many others – definitely qualified.

    It’s absurd to for the Papacy to oppose the DP – the Popes never used to be reluctant to inflict it.

    The only real objection to the DP is that it lets the criminal off too easily, because it spares him a lifetime of suffering that may come his way if he’s locked up for life. Since the Church does not like to be vindictive, it should support the DP, which, once inflicted, is over.

    Besides, countries need to be able to defend themselves against people like traitors and murderers and suchlike – it is irresponsible, & cruel to the public, not to defend them against such evildoers; therefore the DP must be available.

    As for the wrong person being executed:
    All sinners deserve death, and we are all sinners, so if someone is executed for what they have not done, they will deserve it for some other reason. And if they are Catholics, they can accept it, and “offer it up”.

  • Anonymous

    “New Stations of the Cross? A Mistake.”

    “New Stations” ? Last time I looked there were 14; or 15, if you include the Resurrection.