Saturday, August 04, 2018

Denmark Bans the Niqab, and Media Reacts Exactly as Expected

August 3, 2018

Image result for niqab protest denmark

Protest in Aarhus, Denmark, on August 1, 2018 in defiance of the Danish government's ban on the burka and niqab. The nationwide protests were organized by the Socialist Youth Front and two organizations named Women in Dialogue and Party Rebels. (Photo by Aleksander Klug/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

On August 1, a ban on wearing face-covering attire in public took effect in Denmark, which thus joins France, Austria, and Belgium in propagating a complete prohibition on the niqab and burka. (Several other European countries forbid veils in certain locations, such as schools, hospitals, and public transport.)

The website of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) provided a thorough overview of the new law. Among its provisions: if a police officer suspects that a woman wearing niqab is being subjected to “negative social control” -- i.e., living with a Stone Age father or husband -- or if she says something to indicate or suggest as much, the officer may decide whether there is reason to look into the question and/or offer her help and support. Also, Danish authorities have specified that the legislation should be enforced “with due consideration to the person's integrity.” If a woman in niqab is about to enter a mosque, the officer may choose to leave her alone. If an officer is in doubt as to how to handle any niqab-related situation that presents itself, he or she should ask a superior what to do.

Denmark's parliament would appear to have gone to considerable trouble to try to keep from making this new dispensation more problematic than necessary. But the head of the policemen's union, Claus Oxfeldt, is concerned that the guidelines aren't detailed enough. He worries that if one of his officers makes a mistake, it could lead to “disaster” not only for that officer “but also for the Danish police and Denmark as a society.” This is, alas, an understandable concern: the Danes still remember how a couple of pages of Muhammad cartoons published in a newspaper a few years back led to worldwide Muslim riots, not a small number of deaths, and efforts by virtually every Islamic government on Earth to intimidate the Danish prime minister into punishing the cartoonists and editors involved and placing limits on the freedom of Danish citizens to criticize their religion.

DR didn't just publish an overview of the new ban. It ran an article about a young woman named Ayesha Haleem. Well, at least she looks young around the eyes. In addition to her niqab, she wears black-rimmed eyeglasses that make it look as if Nana Mouskouri has converted to Islam. Otherwise it's hard to say anything about her appearance. What we do know about her is that even though there's now a 1000-kroner fine for walking around in public in niqab, she vows never to take hers off.

DR's article was accompanied by a video of Ayesha and her husband walking their child in a stroller. “I will pay the fine,” Ayesha said in English, “but I will not take out my niqab.” She meant, of course, take off her niqab. She and her husband, we were told, have lived in Denmark for almost six years. Apparently she can't speak Danish, at least not even well enough to conduct a brief, simple media interview. And her English is shaky. “It's not fair,” she said, referring to the fine, “because we will be paying this fine from our own savings.” As opposed to what?

Ayesha explained that she considers wearing her niqab a matter of personal freedom. She'd been planning to stay in Denmark and study religion, but the ban, she fretted, might force her and family to leave Denmark. “No one wants to live in a country where you don't have your freedom and can't practice your religion,” said her husband, Haleem Shah -- whose own religious garb, as could be observed in DR's video, consists of sneakers, a pair of jeans, and a lilac polo shirt.

DR had even more on the topic. Reporter Emil Søndergård Ingvorsen found what he called two “polar opposites” within the Muslim community -- both of whom agreed that the niqab ban violates individual freedom. One of those two persons was Oussama el-Saadi of the Grimhøj Mosque, which Ingvorsen described as “conservative.” Yes, that's one way to put it. Two years ago, as it happens, a hidden-camera report on Denmark's TV2 showed another imam at that mosque ordering parents to beat their children over ten years old who don't pray to God.

The TV2 report noted that these child-rearing instructions contrasted dramatically with el-Saadi's assertion, in a non-hidden-camera interview, that his mosque's teachings are entirely consistent with Danish cultural norms. That was a curious claim, given that el-Saadi himself was already on the record as having urged the Danish government to recognize Islamic marriages between little girls and old men. Instead of having since been kicked out of the country, this creep is still holding forth on Danish law in the media. And guess what? Surprise! He supports the “right” of Muslim women to wear niqab.

El-Saadi's “polar opposite” is Sherin Khankan, Denmark's first female imam, who runs her own all-female mosque in Copenhagen. She's liberal, divorced, has long hair, doesn't wear any head covering, and is purportedly one of those so-called “bridge builders” that the Western media adore. According to a 2015 profile, she's “a half-hearted revolutionary,” eager to bring Islam into the contemporary world but loath to anger her fellow believers. Her take on the niqab: “We can't liberate women by violating some women's rights. We have to find another way to help those women who are oppressed or forced to cover themselves.” Great! Any ideas? No, I didn't think so.

The rest of the Danish mainstream media chimed in along much the same lines. In Politiken, for example, Henrik Marstal condemned the niqab ban on feminist grounds, arguing that “any feminist-minded politician would have respected the free choice of attire.” Sorry, but I don't care about the view of the Western feminist establishment, which has been entirely AWOL on Islam's abuse of women. Meanwhile, in the same newspaper, Saer el-Jaichi, a PhD in Islamic Studies, decried the niqab ban as the product of Denmark's “collective hysteria in relation to Muslims and Islam.” Yes, “hysteria.” Can't imagine what has caused it.

Anyway, on August 1, about 1300 protesters gathered in Nørrebro, an increasingly Muslim neighborhood in Copenhagen, to bash the ban. Most of them deliberately violated it. What did the police do? Nothing. Two days later, however, the first arrest under the law was made at a shopping mall in Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen. Two women, one of them in a niqab, got into a scuffle on an escalator. “During the fight, her niqab fell off,” said one of the arresting officers, “but by the time we arrived, she had put it back on.”

‘This Is What Priests Have Come To Know

August 4, 2018

Here is an excerpt from the “pastoral reflection” of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington and immediate successor of Cardinal — sorry, now just “Archbishop” — Theodore McCarrick. It is the cardinal’s Deep Thoughts on the revelation that a prince of the church was an experienced rapist of boys and seminarians:
What is particularly disheartening, certainly for me, is the sense that we had already gone through this traumatic scandal in 2002 with not only the pain of priests abusing young people but the realization that bishops were not properly attentive to the dimensions of the problem. In response to this situation, the Bishops’ Conference gathered in Dallas, Texas and promulgated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Cdl Wuerl
What we are now facing, in the media and from many of our people, is the question: “Has anything changed?”
The answer, I believe, is, “Yes.” We are encouraged by our Holy Father’s determination to hold accountable those who violate the obligations of their ordination, who go so far as to abuse the young and vulnerable among us, or to use their power and influence in a harmful way.

In his strong and decisive response to the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick, Pope Francis is leading the way in calling bishops to greater accountability. The Pope has demonstrated a keen awareness of the feelings of betrayal, the disappointment, the not-unreasonable anger felt by so many of our faithful people as these accusations come to light.
Just as our Holy Father has provided us with an example of how to begin to heal these deep wounds, we, the bishops of our country, are presented with an opportunity  to reflect on what has come to light, to minister to the pain and to respond as best we can to questions that have been raised by this scandal, while moving forward to address in practical ways the very real and legitimate concerns for accountability.
I think everyone recognizes that words, good intentions, and new policies, while important, are not enough. We must not only denounce abuse and take steps to stop the abusers. We must remove even the appearance of cover-ups as we investigate and address allegations.
Read the whole thing. It approximates the experience of being an toothless old woman masticating pasta Alfredo.
I’m joking but I shouldn’t be. Just imagine how deformed your moral faculties must be to respond to the sickening revelations about a cardinal with cowardly twaddle like this. I remind you of this excerpt from my interview with “James,”who was first sexually assaulted by Father McCarrick as a boy. James was the first baby the newly ordained Father McCarrick baptized. Eleven years later, Father McCarrick first molested him. James told me:
He doubts that the bishops and priests who depended on McCarrick’s patronage for their clerical careers will ever rat their godfather Uncle Ted out. Part of it is loyalty, he contends, and part is because many of them know too much about each other’s sexual secrets, and are bound by a self-protective vow of silence.
“They believe that they are more important than the religion itself,” James says. “They believe that man is better than God. That’s not possible. McCarrick believed that he was my direct contact with God. He told me that hundreds and hundreds of times: God will only listen to you when you are with me.”
“Did you believe that?” I ask.
“For a while, yes. When he kissed my penis, yes.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“That’s okay,” says James. “God has given me the strength to get this story out there, and for that I thank God. I have to keep talking. I have to keep talking to other people. Even if I have to tell this story 800 times, I’ll keep saying it until somebody finally listens.”
Compare that to this paragraph from Cardinal Wuerl’s pastoral reflection:
As we, bishops, unite ourselves to the reforming efforts of Pope Francis, it is essential that we be able to address any allegations of abuse by a bishop, even if the allegation is later proved to be unsubstantiated. And here we have already a document to provide the essential components to this approach.
Oh good, a document! Essential components! That’ll fix everything.
At some point within the next two weeks, the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses will be released. It will tell a tale of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which Wuerl ran from 1988 to 2006. It should make for instructive reading about the character Donald Wuerl. Maybe you just get to a point in your life as a successor of the Apostles where you stop seeing other people as human beings. Maybe you get to the point where you forget how to be a human being.
Documents. Essential components. This is not how a flesh-and-blood man thinks and talks when confronted with a moral horror in which he is complicit.
Lately I’m hearing so many words of encouragement in e-mail from Catholic priests all over the country, who have just had it with this mess, and are grateful for the things that they’ve read on this blog. Thank you, Fathers. One today e-mailed to say that he knows current seminarians who see the McCarrick disaster, who have read in this space about how even a solid diocese like Lincoln can’t be honest and straightforward in how it deals with homosexuality in the priesthood, and they’re contemplating taking dramatic action to reveal the sordid truth they’re living through right now.
This letter below came in late this evening from another priest. I know his name and his diocese, but am withholding it at his request. You’ll see why. He told me that men like him are in a terrible position. They can’t speak out, because their bishops will crush them. He writes tonight:
I’ve been reading these statements from the bishops about the steps they are going to take to enact better policy and procedures and improve the 2002 charter as well as regain the people’s trust and faith. You know what’s missing from all of these statements? Any kind of apology or recognition that the bishops have also let down their priests. In 2002, they enacted policy which clamped down on us quite severely and we have done the best we can to follow it. In fact, many of us have suffered unjustly from the pendulum swing of bishops overreacting and dealing with us harshly over spurious allegations of any kind of misconduct. We have always known that the bishops protected themselves and now we have proof with McCarrick.
And now the bishops just presume priests are on their side? That we are mourning with them at more of OUR failures? No we aren’t! In 2002, when the bishops decided to hammer their priests and protect themselves they created a gulf in relationship. No longer were bishops our spiritual fathers. They couldn’t be, because they were now treating all priests like potential liabilities. And for the last 16 years priests have suffered as lawyers and insurance companies have dictated to bishops how they should handle their priests. Bishops continued to try to set themselves up as caring fathers but time has shown that they are not there for us. They will abandon us at a moment’s notice at the most unsubstantiated claim. It has happened to so many priests now it’s an epidemic.
But now when the bishops’ corruption is being laid bare to the world in New Jersey, Washington DC, Chile, Honduras, Australia, and Pennsylvania to come, not a word from our USCCB about asking for forgiveness from their priests for them having failed us, their closest collaborators. This lack of awareness and remorse says so much about what our bishops think of us. They are so consumed with their own need to maintain power and protect the church that considering how this has effected the priests is an afterthought. This is what priests have come to know.
Now people might say, well too bad and all of that. OK, fine. But consider this: It’s not the bishops who keep the church going; it’s the parish priests. We are the most indispensable element of a bishop’s workforce. If you are running a business and want it to run well and efficiently, who are you going to make sure is the most well trained and taken care of in your company? What we are seeing is the bishops clearly are not making sure we are all well trained, given how many homosexuals have infiltrated the priesthood. Further, when they fail and scandalize the church, they don’t even think about the ramifications this might have on us. Instead some bishops are actually talking to their presbyterates like they, the priests, are the ones who offended, and are threatening more sexual abuse training.
Bishops, we have also been scandalized and mistreated. The truth is that most of you have been rotten failures as bishops. You have failed as spiritual fathers to your priests, you have not protected us by making sure we are properly trained, you have left many of us at the mercy of predatory homosexual priests, and when some of your order have miserably failed, you have not shown any remorse to us by your failures. This entire mess we are in is your fault. I’m ashamed of the entire episcopacy and scandalized to be associated with you.
Straight fire, right there. You might have heard of that time that the successors of the apostles ignored widespread anger and discontent at their own corruption, and an angry priest nailed a document to a church door. Never, ever  forget the late historian Barbara Tuchman’s elements that are present in all great and consequential institutional collapses:
1. obliviousness to the growing disaffection of constituents
2. primacy of self-aggrandizement
3. illusion of invulnerable status
Cardinal Wuerl’s reflection ends like this:
Let us pray that our children and all our people will see in us, their bishops, through our actions as well as our words, their brothers and companions.
Theodore McCarrick did not just molest children. He forced seminarians to participate in his creepy homoerotic bedtime rituals, and worse.  Bishops as “brothers and companions.” Right.
Being a Catholic priest — a good one, one who is faithful to his vows, his people, and most of all his Lord — has to be one of the loneliest ways of life in this country now. I have long believed that aside from victims of clerical sex abuse and their families, the ones who suffer most from this never-ending nightmare are the good priests. Tonight’s impassioned letter from one of them helps us understand why.
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Friday, August 03, 2018

Let’s Debunk The Misleading Panic Over 3-D Guns

August 1, 2018
Image result for 3-d guns
Cody Wilson, with Defense Distributed, holds a 3D-printed gun.(AP)
The newest bugaboo of the gun control crowd is the bloodcurdling “3-D printer gun.” Or, as Alyssa Milano, a self-styled expert on these matters, might call it: “downloadable death.” Reporters at CNN ask, “3-D guns: Untraceable, undetectable and unstoppable?” Even President Donald Trump tweeted that “he’s looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
It makes plenty of sense.
First of all, “3-D Plastic Guns” aren’t being sold to the public. Nor are “downloadable firearms” or “ghost guns.” These things don’t exist. Data, code, and information is being sold to the public. There is no magical contraption that creates a new gun on demand. Sorry.
Even if such a machine existed, however, the Trump administration hasn’t suddenly begun “allowing” Americans to fabricate guns in the comfort of their homes, as so many stories have intimated. It’s never been illegal to make your own (non-NFA) weapons in the first place.
The pretext for this freakout is news that the State Department reached a settlement with Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, which offered digital designs for 3-D printed guns, not guns. The Obama administration had maintained that the company’s printer code violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which had little to do with a law-abiding hobbyist milling a lower receiver for a commercially popular civilian firearm in his suburban Pennsylvania garage.
(As of this writing, a federal judge in Seattle has issued a temporary restraining order stopping release of downloadable blueprints for 3-D-printed guns. This prior restraint on speech won’t last long if the First Amendment still means anything.)
Milano may not be aware that Americans have been building their own three-dimensional guns since before the revolution. The Kentucky rifle was created by German and Swiss blacksmiths living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and not one of them owned a computer.
Today, life has become far more convenient, and schematics that offer hobbyists plans for assembly or creation of firearms can be found across the Internet. Although a person might need a high degree of proficiency to pull off making one, they certainly don’t need a 3-D printer. Here, for instance, is a video of an industrious fellow turning hundreds of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon into an AR15. All of it, already permissible.
Still, Milano contends that the administration’s decision now means that “felons, domestic abusers, terrorists, those adjudicated too mentally ill to own guns and any other person unable to legally purchase firearms will be able to print one at home.”
Guess what? If you’re unable to legally purchase firearms, you are already prohibited from making a gun in your home, just as you are prohibited from buying a gun through a straw purchase or stealing one from your neighbor or smuggling one into the country. That’s settled law. Good work.
Censoring code on the Internet simply because you find guns objectionable, though, is another story. As Wilson notes in Washington Post, code “is the essence of expression. It meets all the requirements of speech — it’s artistic and political, you can manipulate it, and it needs human involvement to become other things.” How can the state ban the transfer of knowledge used to help someone engage in an activity that is completely legal? Scratch that — to engage in an activity that is constitutionally protected?
As a practical matter, the perception created by Ed Markey and the anti-Second Amendment organizations pushing this 3-D-printer code scare—that Joe Criminal can now merely push a button and “print one at home” with his 3-D applications and PC-connected milling machine—is purposely misleading.
You might wonder why criminals would bother spending thousands of dollars to create a one-shot plastic gun (that probably won’t work) when they can walk into a store and buy a reliable shotgun for a few hundred dollars, or procure a weapon illegally for far less?
Well, I’m assured by Milano these 3-D-printed plastic guns are undetectable and easy to make. Neither of these things are true. It’s already illegal for Americans to possess weapons that are undetectable to metal detectors (even if metal detectors aren’t used at airports anymore). So don’t make one. But the Defense Distributed plans for a complete AR-15 include 72 parts, some of which are comprised of metal to prevent catastrophic malfunctions. Is a mastermind criminal going to 3-D-print or mill all those parts himself, a task that requires not only considerable knowledge, skill, and experience, but also a costly printer and custom machine shop? This technology has been available for years. Has there been a crime wave of undetectable AR15s?
What Markey wants to do is pass legislation that curtails the rights of law-abiding citizens by fearmongering over a settlement that had nothing to do with the legality of homemade guns in the first place. As always, he—and other gun restrictionists in states contemplating increased oversight of a nonexistent problem—are interested in adopting incremental steps towards more obstructive gun laws. In this case, they are aiming to limit hobbyist manufacturing, in general.
The entire case against 3-D guns is propelled by the notion, normalized over many years, that access to firearms is problematic, even though the presence of guns doesn’t equate to increased violence. And who knows, perhaps one day, as machines evolve and become more reliable and powerful, it won’t be prohibitively expensive or inaccessible for the average law-abiding person to make his own AR15 or 1911. Whether that’s a positive or negative development is debatable. But gun-control activists are trying to dictate what that future looks like now.
David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the forthcoming book, First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.

Pope Bans Death Penalty

August 2, 2018
Image result for pope francis death penalty
Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases “because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a shift in Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compendium of Catholic beliefs.
The pontiff, who is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, said the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
Previously, the catechism allowed the death penalty in some cases, if it was “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor,” even if in reality “cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
I don’t see how he can do this. To be clear, I am in most cases opposed to the death penalty, but I agree (agreed) with the previous teaching of the Catholic Church, which was (until Francis’s statement) that it is permissible when there are no bloodless ways to protect society. Catholic supporters of the death penalty have pointed out in the past that there’s no way that the Church can totally forbid it, and remain faithful to its past authoritative teachings.
He shows how the Church, from the patristic period until the 20th century, maintained consistently that capital punishment was permissible under certain conditions. The (at the time) official position of the Catholic Church was that the death penalty should only be used in extreme situations. Excerpt:
In coming to this prudential conclusion, the magisterium is not changing the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine remains what it has been: that the State, in principle, has the right to impose the death penalty on persons convicted of very serious crimes. But the classical tradition held that the State should not exercise this right when the evil effects outweigh the good effects. Thus the principle still leaves open the question whether and when the death penalty ought to be applied. The Pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good. I personally support this position.
As do I today, even though I am not a Catholic.
Pope Francis, however, began making noises last year that the Church was wrong ever to support the death penalty. Last fall, Catholic philosopher Edward Feser said that the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church) cannot outright deny the licitness of the death penalty. Feser was writing to call on Pope Francis to clarify his statements on the death penalty. Excerpts:
To provide context, it is necessary briefly to review the Church’s traditional teaching on capital punishment. Consider first that the Church teaches that Scripture is divinely inspired and cannot teach error on matters of faith and morals. Yet there are a great many passages in Scripture that teach the legitimacy of capital punishment. For example, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Romans 13:4 teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Many other passages could be cited. The Fathers of the Church understood such passages to be sanctioning capital punishment, and the Church has for two thousand years consistently followed this interpretation. The Church also teaches (for example, at the First Vatican Council) that Catholics are obliged to interpret Scripture consistent with the way the Fathers understood it, and consistent with the Church’s traditional interpretation. Taken together, these teachings logically entail that the legitimacy of capital punishment is regarded by the Church as a divinely revealed doctrine.
Even Pope St John Paul II explicitly reaffirmed in the Catechism he promulgated that “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty” under certain conditions. It is true that John Paul thought that capital punishment was in practice best avoided, but this was a non-binding prudential judgment rather than a doctrinal matter. Cardinal Ratzinger, John Paul II’s doctrinal spokesman and later to become Pope Benedict XVI, made this clear when he stated in 2004 that:
If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment…he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities… to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to…have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about… applying the death penalty. [Emphasis added]
But mightn’t a pope reverse Scripture and his predecessors on such a matter? He may not. While the First Vatican Council taught that a pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, it also insisted that:
The Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.
In a 2005 homily, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the point, saying:
The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law… He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down…
The Pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound…to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage.
Feser went on to say:
For another thing, if the Pope is saying that capital punishment is always and intrinsically immoral, then he would be effectively saying – whether consciously or unconsciously – that previous popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and even divinely inspired Scripture are in error. If this is what he is saying, then he would be attempting to “make known some new doctrine,” which the First Vatican Council expressly forbids a pope from doing. He would, contrary to the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, be “proclaim[ing] his own ideas” rather than “bind[ing] himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word.” He would be joining that very small company of popes who have flirted with doctrinal error. And he would be undermining the credibility of the entire Magisterium of the Church, including his own credibility. For if the Church has been that wrong for that long about something that serious, why should we trust anything else she teaches? And if all previous popes have been so badly mistaken about something so important, why should we think Pope Francis is right?
So, today, there is no “if” about it: Pope Francis has said flat-out that the death penalty is immoral, and has ordered the Catechism to be written to reflect this new teaching. As of this morning, the Catechism now reads:
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.
Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
It seems to me that the Pope has crossed a bright line. He is denying, for the first time in nearly two millennia of Catholic teaching, and in direct contradiction to the Fathers of the Church, that the state has the right to impose capital punishment. That’s a meaningful difference from saying that the state has that right, but shouldn’t use it.
Even if you disfavor the death penalty, understand what this means: this Pope has claimed forthrightly that the Catholic Church taught error, but now, at long last, he has set the Church straight. From a traditional point of view, though, this means that the Pope is teaching error.
This. Is. Big.
If Francis can do this, what can’t he do? What are the limits on his power?
Catholic friends keep saying to me how much they hope that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches can end our thousand-year schism, and reunite. I would love for that to happen myself, but I keep telling them that even if the Orthodox set aside the historical prejudices that stand in the way, there is no way that Orthodoxy is going to take the chance of reunion with the Latin church that is so unstable, liturgically and doctrinally.
UPDATE: Lots of good commentary around this. Let’s start with this just sent to me by a Catholic priest:
So let me get this straight?  Francis breaks with 2000 years of tradition to change Church teaching on Capital Punishment (which was already practically banned) but he won’t clarify what the Hell he means by Amoris Laetitia?  Why was this necessary except for a shameless exercise of his Papal authority?
A very, very important point: no normal person listening to popes would think that. This Jesuit pope is reminding people why the word “Jesuitical” is a pejorative synonym for clerical casuistry.
Along these lines, reader Matt in VA, who is not a Catholic, comments below on how Francis is defeating trads and conservatives:
The liberals and gays understand something that TradCaths are constitutionally, definitionally incapable of understanding. Fights over whether the doctrine changes on paper are incredibly small potatoes compared to what we actually see with our own eyes when we look at the world around us. Once you’ve changed the world around us, the world we all can see, and the unarmed TradCaths are huddled around that piece of paper, with absolutely zero resources other than their Bonhoeffer quotes, what on earth are they going to do?
Reader John A. shows how this is going to play out regarding homosexuality and official Church teaching:
From the Catholic Catechism of 2030:
“Sexual relations between persons of the same sex were long considered to be intrinsically disordered acts.
“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost when a person engages in same-sex relations. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the meaning of human sexuality.
“Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘same-sex sexual activity is a legitimate expression of the inviolability and dignity of the person’, and she works with determination for its acceptance worldwide.”
That is what smart liberal Catholics like Father James Martin, SJ, argue: that what we know today about homosexuality makes authoritative Church teaching of the past null and void.
For me, as a seeker in my early twenties, the Catholic Church’s claims to be a solid rock of doctrine in a liberalizing world, was a huge draw. I don’t see how, under Francis, that is plausible any longer — not in the world of “normal people.”
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