Just because something is not a binding dogma…

…does not mean it is a good idea, including the death penalty. So yeah the Church cannot reverse its teaching on the death penalty and say that what is not intrinsically immoral is intrinsically immoral. So what? It can still say that it is unnecessary and need not be done.

And it does, in fact, do this. Three popes and all the bishops of the world say that while the death penalty is not intrinsically immoral and the state, in theory, has the right to execute people under remote circumstances, the need for the death penalty is so rare as to make its abolition the wisest thing to do in civil law.

When it comes to taking human life, the right wing culture of death asks “When do we get to kill?”

The Church, in contrast, asks, “When do we have to kill?”

The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody. The Magisterium urges us to look for ways to avoid killing unless driven to do so by absolute necessity.

The Magisterium notes that the inaccuracy and unjustice of our legal system is such that support for the death penalty means support for killing innocent people roughly 4% of the time in our zeal to kill those we deem worthy of death. The Church’s basic position is “Better the guilty should live than the innocent should perish.”

The term for that is “prolife”. You know, from conception to natural death. It’s what we are supposed to actually mean when we say “All Lives Matter”. Even criminal ones.

So it comes back to this: If you stop wasting your time and energy fighting the guidance of the Church, searching for loopholes allowing you to kill some of those All Lives that supposedly Matter to you, you find that you have lots more time and energy for defending the unborn that you say are your core non-negotiable. Why not do that instead of battling three popes and all the bishops in the world in a struggle to keep the US on a list with every Islamic despotism from Saudi Arabia to Iran, as well as Communist China and North Korea? Why the “prolife” zeal to kill?

Be more prolife, not less.

Oh, and just a reminder. Instead of saying, “If it’s not binding dogma, feel free to ignore it” the Church says:

Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.” (Lumen Gentium, no. 25)

That doesn’t mean “Never disagree with the Pope”.  But it does mean that you better have a pretty darn good reason for doing so.  “I want to kill the maximum number of people I can get away with killing” is, on the face of it, a hard sell as comporting with the clear and obvious teaching of the Church and perhaps there are other issues in our culture of death that might use our time and energy more fruitfully, particularly when the immediate result of such an argument is to spawn a fresh batch of comments from priests scandalously declaring the pope a heretic, wacked out conspiracy theorists calling the pope “evil beyond comprehension“, and false prophets forecasting that “Antipope Francis” will approve abortion.  This is the atmosphere of the warriors of the right wing culture of death.  It does not need more oxygen.

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