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Friday, May 15, 2009


Ed Peters

"I grew up Catholic..." I know first hand how rotten Ray Repp music is.

...which means I got a twenty year jump on Brumley in the acquisition-of-merits race.

...and managed not to get thrown out along the way, which is a testament to the Church's patience with total dolts like me.

Your turn, guys.


... and then grew up, Catholic.

Charles E Flynn

One of my failings as a Catholic is that when people tell me they were raised Catholic with a tone that suggests regret, I have a regrettable tendency to cut them off with a remark such as, "That's nice. When was the last time you got it upgraded? That was the beta. I doubt you run the rest of your life at a perpetual eighth-grade level."

You should be deeply suspicious of any human activity, such as lapsed Catholicism, that cannot support a quality quarterly publication (sorry, Websites and blogs do not count). There is no "Lapsed Catholic Quarterly," with allegedly thrilling stories of people who were victims of poor catechesis or the selection of second-rate reading matter, and letters to the editor celebrating the joys of self-inflicted self-impoverishment.


Well...even John Paul pleaded and advocated for getting rid of the death penalty.


Had a debate with a talk-show host one time who brought up this "what's the difference?" argument. His trump card was that so many anti-abortion people were also proponents of the death penalty. How then could they be pro-life? When I told him that if a deal were on the table that guaranteed an end to abortion in exchange for an end to capital punishment that I didn't know any pro-lifer that wouldn't take that deal in a heart-beat, he didn't have an answer.
That was many years ago but I think it holds today. The death penalty is a side-issue, not in the same category. Catholic doctrine allows that the state can reserve that right where it is necessary for the safety and protection of innocent people, but as JPII pointed out, that condition rarely, if ever exists in the modern state. To eliminate it by law would be a small price to pay for the legal protection of the unborn.
The real goal of the argument is to try to establish hypocrisy to discredit the pro-lifer. Its proponents are not looking for logical or philosophical consistency because when you offer it to them they would rather cling to abortion.

Ed Peters

"You should be deeply suspicious of any human activity, such as lapsed Catholicism, that cannot support a quality quarterly publication."

What an intriguing rule of thumb!

Francis Beckwith

It is interesting how little people think of theology that they resort to the "I grew up an X" phrase.

Nobody, when arguing about medicine, says, "But my father was a doctor and he brought me up," as if by sheer genetics and paternal presence one is imparted with actual medical knowledge. On the other hand, absence of personal upbringing in a a tradition as prima facie evidence of ignorance. For example, no one would think it is a good argument to tell a Richard Dawkins that he does not know anything about Catholicism because he didn't grow up one. (Dawkins, in fact, does not know anything about Catholicism, but it has nothing to do with his upbringing or lack thereof).

Carl E. Olson

Stacey: Here is what the Catechism says about abortion:

"Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law" (par 2271)

"From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 § 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life." (par 2322)

And here is what it says about capital punishment:

"Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person." (par 2267)

Abortion, the murder of an innocent, is always gravely sinful and evil. Period. The death penalty is not inherently evil, but should be used only when necessary (and that, of course, is part of the debate: when is it necessary?). Big, big difference.


I'm glad to see Dr. Beckwith commented here because I'm curious about his thought on an idea that bounces around my mind. I know some nonCatholics who grew up during the 70s and 80s who are now very active conservative Protestants (mostly Lutheran or Presbyterian, but a couple of Baptists too). Several of them, at some point in conversation, have expressed some "softening" toward their childhood faith and some nostalgia. I detect perhaps some steps on a road that someday may lead them Home, but filled with a much richer knowledge of scripture and natural law than they had when they were young, very liberal Catholics.

So, is it conceivable God would work to preserve their flickering faith in this manner, getting them out of a far-too-liberal, anything-goes branch of Catholicism in a known-left-leaning diocese, and into pro-life, conservative Protestantism -- where they have learned the Bible, the creeds, history (albeit not always presented best-case for Catholicism), some early saints, and then return them to the Catholic Church in adulthood? They are "lapsed Catholics" but far more knowledgeable about historic Christianity than they ever were before they left the RC Church.

Sorry to steer this away from Death Penalty/Abortion discussion. This question nags me and I welcome any thoughts here, of course.

Matt Bettag

The difference between the death penalty and abortion is about 900000 lives per year in the US alone. We are unfortunately given an either or scenario. Very few politicians fall in favor of ending abortion and ending the death penalty. Therefore, we must take the greater good.
Another difference is the issue of innocent life. Smaller difference, but still a difference.

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