On Pope Francis’s Apparent Reversal of Catholic Teaching

Pope Francis seems to want to reverse the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment.  I’m sure that plenty of my dear readers have heard about how he intends to change the current passage in the Catholic catechism.  It is important to discuss this change, because it has the chance to undermine all Catholic dogma.  If the Church was wrong about whether capital punishment is an intrinsic evil, can we ever trust the Church about anything?  Moreover, God Himself seems to strongly encourage capital punishments at certain times during the Old Testament.  Is Pope Francis then saying that God commands people to do moral wrongs or that God is completely arbitrary?  These are very troubling notions which really can completely undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.


Elijah slays a Prophet of Baal


Before I comment on the new one, let’s take a look at the old passage:

2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good.  Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime.  The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense.  When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation.  Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.

If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’

So, the old statement says that the State has the right to use capital punishment in defense of society.  At the same time, it offers the opinion that First World systems of penal correction are sophisticated enough to protect society from even very violent people; hence, there is no need for Canada, the United States, Europe, and certain other countries to have recourse to the death penalty.  There are many developing countries where the prison systems are not so perfect, so that line of argument does not fit there.

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My Last Foray into Hellsing

The Hellsing TV series is one of the most enjoyable anime one can watch.  The characters, particularly Alucard, Fr. Anderson, and Lady Integra (I shall refer to her as Lady Integra.  Calling her Sir Integra is too confusing.), display a great degree of panache.  The fights keep the viewer on the edge of their seats as we eagerly await the humiliation of the wicked.  The manga was similarly enjoyable until I read volumes 7 and 8.


Now, I must state here that Hellsing contains an incredible degree of gore and violence–second only to Berserk among what I have perused.  I could not read through the first volume of the latter nor of the former on my first attempt.  Then, after college and age had rendered my soul a little more callous, I read the first six volumes in a couple of days to discover that the website holding the scanlations deleted the manga chapters on the third day.  And so, it was not until recently that I decided to give Hellsing another try.


Not only were volumes seven and eight the most gory experience I have yet to be treated to in my short life, but I cannot imagine the fifth circle of hell being far different.  *Spoilers ahead for those who care*  Basically, a horde of Neo-Nazi vampires attacks London as the Iscariot organization steps in to stop the fighting.  The latter are so far from being truly helpful that they shout things like: “The only good Protestant is a dead Protestant!”  That’s flushing ecumenicism down the tubes!  But, the bitter hatred between Catholics and Protestants in the manga, judging by the calls for Pope Benedict XVI’s imprisonment prior to his trip to England, may not differ too widely from the actual situation in Britain!

Don't ask me why Catholic knights should be dressed like the KKK.

Don’t ask me why Catholic knights should be dressed like the KKK.

But, volumes 7 and 8 did have many enjoyable points.  I wouldn’t have missed Seras Victoria dual wielding giant 20mm or 30mm machine guns and bringing down a Zeppelin with incendiary rounds for the world.  Then again, at the death of her latent love interest, she drank his blood to become a full fledged vampire and took down the horde of enemy vampires storming her position.  Lady Integra lit up a cigar in the midst of her innumerable foes and contemned them for abandoning their humanity as she defied them to attack her.  Fr. Anderson with a team from Iscariot came to her rescue.  With lofty chivalry, he accompanied her home and prevented his compatriots’ plan of arresting her.  Lastly, in homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Alucard sails up the Thames in an aircraft carrier whose crew had been slain prior to this.


I only wish that the violence and gore had been toned down.  My conscience forbids me from reading further, despite my love for seeing the exploits of our heroes.  Unless someone tells me that it gets less gory with the advent of Alucard.  Why not concentrate more on the coolness of the heroes?  After all, no one reads a manga to see the effect of metal on flesh!