Pope Initiates Schism with American Conservative Catholic Death Penalty Fans

Even the Orthodox are all like, “Get serious, you guys!” to American conservative Catholics pretending Pope Francis’ remark that it is contrary to the gospel is some huge problem:

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To kill people unnecessarily is contrary to the gospel. Huge baffling mystery that puzzles American conservative Catholics alone resolved!

The spectacle of Catholics striving to drag the Church away from the Holy Father and mercy and closer to Communists and Islamic despots is just such an amazing freak show.

Pete Vere, sane Traditionalist up in Canada, is pointing out that this is not a story of “Pope Francis vs. Tradition”.  It’s a story about one subculture–American Conservative Death Penalty Lovers–vs. the whole of the Magisterium and the rest of the sensus fidelium around the world.  But because Americans are rich and powerful and have easy access to lots of media megaphones (including some in England and a couple of other place) they give the illusion that this is some sort of major split in the whole Church.  It’s not.  It’s a small American political sect vs. the developed teaching of the Magisterium.

In case you are interested, here is the 9 part series I did on the Death Penalty recently for the Catholic Weekly:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7 This is of particular interest since this is the big excuse used by death penalty fans for retaining the death penalty.

Part 8

Part 9

Whenever American conservatives at war with Catholic teaching want a rationale they pursue a three-part strategy.  The first is to declare that the Church’s teaching is a “prudential judgment”, then define “prudential judgment” to mean “feel free to blow off the Church’s teaching if you don’t like it.” (Lefties achieve the same effect by invoking “primacy of conscience” and defining it the same way.)

Then to nail down the lid on the coffin of the Church’s teaching, both Lefties and Righties find a folk hero theologian or Big Name Catholic who can function as their Alternative Magisterium to the real Magisterium.  So Lefties, for years, appealed to Fr. Richard McBrien and such like to assure them they could blow off the Church’s teaching on contraception or women priests or whatever.

Righty Cafeteria Catholics do the same thing.  Michael Novak was trotted out to assure us that we could ignore the Magisterium on the justice of preventive war.  Raymond Arroyo had Marc Thiessen on to assure us that torture was fine.  And (until he finally was forced to admit he was wrong) Fr. Brian Harrison was the go-to theologian for American Conservative Torture Lovers.  Likewise, Fr. Wilson Miscamble remains the Alternative Magisterium for every Right Wing Lover of Nuclear Mass Murder at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And now Ed Feser will fulfill the role of Alternative Magisterium for enemies of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think Dr. Feser has done a lot of admirable work, particularly in his arguments with atheists.  But I think if there is anything the world does not need, it’s a Catholic defense of the death penalty.   And now, we are going to have to listen, for years, as American “prolife” Catholics, telling us their “focus” is on saving the unborn, in fact put their time and energy into fighting the Magisterium in a misplaced zeal to kill people who do not need to be killed–and into doing so even when it means killing 4 innocent people out of 100.  And the appeal will forever be to Dr. Feser as the Alternative Magisterium who authorizes this war on the Magisterium.

The solution?  Simple.  Just listen to the Church, which has a perfect right to say “Killing people unnecessarily is contrary to the gospel” and which, since JPII, has been calling for the abolition of the death penalty.  Only American conservatives find this difficult and complicated.  The rest of the Church does not and has parted ways with Communists and Islamic despots on this point.

It’s only complicated if we want it to be.

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