THESE ARE COMMON PROBLEMS FOR MANY BISHOPS, NOT JUST THOSE FROM NEBRASKA
To: Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha
Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln
Most Rev. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, Bishop Grand Island
cc: Governor Pete Ricketts, his cabinet & staff
Nebraska Supreme Court
Nebraska County Sheriffs
The Police Officers' Association of Nebraska
Attorney General Doug Peterson & staff
Nebraska County Attorneys Association
Nebraska Crime Commission
U of Nebraska Law School
Colleges & Universities throughout Nebraska
Media throughout Nebraska
Nebraska Catholic Leadership: Their False Teachings & the Death Penalty
From : Dudley Sharp
Catholic leadership, in Nebraska, as elsewhere, keep the death penalty truth away from their flock.
That claim is supported, in detail, below and here (1) and has been sent, repeatedly, to the Bishops, their staffs and/or parishes, for months.
The Nebraska Bishops are presenting error after error, week after week (1). It is long overdue to end it.
1) The Truth: All Catholics May Support the Death Penalty
All good and faithful Catholics may, now, support the death penalty, may support more executions and may, faithfully and thoughtfully, disagree with the Church's 1995/1997 death penalty restrictions. (1)
The Bishops False Teachings:
With the title of "3. Prudence, schmrudence…” (2), the Nebraska Bishops, immaturely and disrespectfully, accuse Catholics of "acting like two year olds", when those "two year old" Catholics say that the post 1995/1997 Catholic teachings on the death penalty are matters of prudential judgment and, because of that, such "two year old" Catholics find that all good Catholics may support the death penalty and more executions based upon prudential judgment (see The Proof, just below), as well as over 2000 years of Church teachings (1).
The Evidence Against the Bishops
Let's look at the blatant errors and insulting language of the Bishops and who they call "two year olds":
The most prominent of the "two year olds" are three members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) , the most authoritative voice for valid teachings within the Church:
-- Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of CDF
-- Cardinal-Prefect of CDF Joseph Ratzinger (1981-2005), currently Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
-- Cardinal-Prefect of CDF William Levada (2005- 2012), who, currently, serves as Prefect emeritus of CDF
-- as well as all good and thoughtful Catholics who find the death penalty just and appropriate (1), while also finding that it saves more innocent lives (6).
All identified by the Bishops as "two year olds".
These first two were delivered to the US Catholic Bishops, but have not been presented by the Nebraska Bishops to their congregations - an intentional and major error of omission - a deception, by the Bishops.
Cardinal-Prefect Ratzinger (2004), now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
"3. ". . . if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
"Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from a memorandum sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick, made public in the first week of July 2004.
confirmed by Cardinal-Prefect William Levada (2004):
". . . if a Catholic were to disagree 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, but not with regard to abortion and euthanasia." “Theological Reflections on Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion,” a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document.
Bishops Double Down on Their Errors
The Bishop's write: "The Church’s doctrine is that if there are “non-lethal means” of protecting society from a bad dude then the State must limit itself to those non-lethal means. That’s not up for negotiation. That’s the teaching."
--- This is not doctrine and cannot be, as the Bishops well know (1).
--- The Bishops, also, know it is up for "negotiation" by any thoughtful Catholic who disagrees with the Church's prudential judgment -- that is the actual teaching, as detailed and not rebutted, as opposed to the Bishops' fiction by omission and commission.
--- The Church alternates between "non-lethal" and "bloodless" means, with the later being the current official language at the Vatican site.
Although they mean the same, the huge problem with "bloodless" is that it, so blatantly, has this conflict:
Within the current Catechism, CCC 2260, "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." "This teaching remains necessary for all time."
This eternal command is from Genesis 9:6, within the Noahic Covenant, which is for all peoples and all times, and is God's Word that the death penalty shows the greatest of respect for innocent life, the opposite of the Bishops' claims, as is very well known.
The Bishops' chosen prudential judgement of "bloodless" and "non-lethal" are both secular determinations which contradict the eternal teaching of Genesis 9:6, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed" and the Bishops pick . . . the secular.
2) The Truth:
This is another non-disclosure by the Nebraska Bishops, undermining the truth and their flock:
In reference to the death penalty errors by Pope John Paul II in his Evangelium Vitae (EV - 1995) and the wrongful inclusion of those errors into the amended Section 2267 of the CCC, Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor CDF, writes:
“The most reasonable conclusion to draw from this discussion is that, once again, the Catechism is simply wrong from an historical point of view. Traditional Catholic teaching did not contain the restriction enunciated by Pope John Paul II (within Evangelium Vitae - EV)." (3).
That EV restriction was the foundation for the recent (1997) error filled amendment, CCC 2267, to Church teaching on the death penalty (1, 4) and without that foundation those recent changes can be found invalid.
Flannery continues: “The realm of human affairs is a messy one, full of at least apparent inconsistency and incoherence, and the recent teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment — vitiated, as I intend to show, by errors of historical fact and interpretation—is no exception.” (3).
A review of some of the problems within the amended CCC 2267 (4).
NOTE: Flannery was appointed by Pope John Paul II.
3) More Bishops' False Teachings:
The Bishops state:
"According to Catholic teaching, the state may impose the death penalty if this punishment is the only available means to protect society. Therefore, this option should not be exercised when, other, non lethal means, more respectful of human life are available." "This principled Catholic response is shaped by our commitment to the life and dignity of every human person and the common good." (5).
Additional False Teachings of the Bishops:
a) As already established (4), there is no such prior Catholic teaching as "the state may impose the death penalty if this punishment is the only available means to protect society." (3,4).
b) The Bishops, again, intentionally leave out important Catholic teachings, paragraphs (1) and (2), above, and footnote 1, below, misleading their flock.
c) Establishing a false and irrational standard, that being: if the death penalty "is the only available means to protect society" - which should not be accepted by anyone.
d) "This principled Catholic response (in support of the death penalty) is shaped by our commitment to the life and dignity of every human person and the common good.", which was used as the support for the death penalty for 2000 years and still is. It is as if the Bishops had never reviewed Church tradition with the death penalty (1).
In addition, within the most recent Catechism, in CCC 2258-2266 the standard is a requirement to protect innocents from unjust aggressors:
CCC 2265: "the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm."
Now, within CCC 2267, the Bishops and the CCC redefine "common good" requiring us to do everything we can "not to render the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm.", or, to put it another way "the unjust aggressor must always be able to harm, again" - the opposite of 2258-2266.
Using reason and tradition the true standard is:
1) what is the most just sanction for the crime committed, reasserted as the primary objective, as "redress", in the most recent CCC:
The primary objective of sanction is to "redress the disorder caused by the offense" (CCC 2266), not protection . . . yet, even then . . .
The Bishops know that to be the death penalty, as previously reviewed (1,6).
The additional reason that "the only available means" is a false teaching is that it, intentionally, avoids reality.
For example, for decades, the Church thought there was another available means to protect children from sinful, sexual predator priests. The Church was wrong, then, as everyone, now, knows, just as She is, now with Her "only available means", again, sacrificing more innocents.
Reality, you see, matters.
In the predator priest cases, it is easy to see how the Church can make very non prudential judgments, over 40 years, observe those bad prudential judgments, sacrificing more and more innocents with Her, wrongly, selecting Her chosen available means.
It is hard to see how She is so, obviously, making that same error, again, with her newest, error filled death penalty position, and . . . again, sacrificing more innocents (6).
How the Bishops and the Church are, utterly, clueless to that is simply astounding, in light of the priest sex scandal, which was in full public mode at the same time these amendments were made, again, putting many more innocents at risk.
For example, there is the "means" of the state of the criminal justice system, in the US and, then, there is reality, since 1973:
Some 16,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (6) and
Some 400,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have allowed to harm, again - recidivist criminals. (6)
Neither the Church nor Nebraska Bishops will acknowledge known reality (6), thereby sacrificing more innocent lives . . . again.
The Bishops look the other way, insisting on the fictional standard - "only available means", in opposition to reality, thereby sacrificing more innocents, again.
The Bishops state: "It just so happens that in our time the Church has assessed the options and has come to the prudential conclusion that in our modern era non-lethal means are present practically everywhere. Therefore, the use of the death penalty should be “very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (2).
. . . which is all rebutted by very well known reality, over and over, again, in the US, as elsewhere, as detailed above and here (6), as the Bishops are aware and, intentionally, fail to share wit their flock.
c) As is well known by many, inclusive of the Bishops, the foundation for 2000 years of pro death penalty Catholic teaching is based upon "respect for human life", a "commitment to the life and dignity of every human person and the common good."
What the Bishops and other anti death penalty Church leadership are, now, saying is that for 2000 years the Church supported a sanction, the death penalty, that did not respect human life, was against life, against the dignity of every human person and against the common good.
Thoughtful Catholics understand that such is not true and cannot be true.
4) The Bishops Four "FALSE" Reasons to Abolish the Death Penalty (5)
a) "Re-instating the death penalty would risk innocent lives". - False
Bishops' false teachings:
-- As the Bishops well know and have never rebutted (1), innocents are better protected with the death penalty, in three ways, than with life without parole (LWOP) (6).
The Bishop's death penalty repeal position will sacrifice more innocent lives.
-- Bishops: "Take for example the story of Kirk Bloodsworth. Kirk spent nearly 9 years on death row in Maryland after he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Donna Hamilton." " . . . more than 150 people sentenced to death have been released from death row because they were acquitted, dismissed from prosecution or pardoned based upon evidence of innocence." (4)
More false problems for the Bishops
Bloodsworth was never at risk of execution. He was on death row for 2 years, not 9, and then 7 years serving a life sentence, prior to release.
In the modern era death penalty, post Gregg v Georgia (1976), Maryland has executed four murderers, who appealed their sentences and were executed, averaging 12 years from sentence to execution, with the shortest being 9 years.
Three time Maryland murderer, Thanos, waived his appeals and was executed in 1994, 2 years after his sentencing.
Thanos, to the victim's families: "(your murdered childrens') cries bring laughter from the darkest caverns of my soul. I don't believe I could satisfy my thirst yet in this matter unless I was to be able to dig these brats' bones up out of their graves right now and beat them into powder and urinate on them and then stir it into a murky yellowish elixir and serve it up to their loved ones".
Thanos murdered Billy Winebrenner, 16, and his girlfriend, Melody Pistorio, 14, during a robbery and murdered Gregory Allen Taylor, 18, in another crime, for which he was, also, sentenced to death.
-- The 150 (now 156) represent, maybe 36 actually innocent people sent to death row (0.4% of the total), all but one of which has been set free, with that one dying on death row, from cancer, just as he would have serving LWOP.
It is a remarkable record of accuracy.
There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s.
Yet we have:
Some 16,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (6) and
Some 400,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have allowed to harm, again - recidivist criminals (6).
A rational assessment would be that the Bishops real concern is not innocents at risk, but only sparing murderers.
Exactly as Catholic theologian Steven Long assessed:
"The misbegotten application of categories of speech appropriate in regard to the murder of innocents to the vastly different application of just penalty for grave evil, is symptomatic of a society that can garner more support to spare the guilty than to save the innocent."
"The crowd still wants Barabbas." (1b)
b) "Reinstating the death penalty would be cruel to victims' families." (4). - False
The Bishops' hypocrisy and false teachings:
1) As per the video (5), because of long appeals times, the Bishops contend that the death penalty harms the victims' families. The Bishops, constantly, use false, secular anti death penalty rhetoric, as they do, here. How about reality:
These problems are not the death penalty's fault. It is the fault of the sanction's managers - the legislature, governor, attorney generals, judges, etc.
As the Bishops are well aware:
-- There have been nearly 1000 executions in other states, over the last 20 years, when Nebraska has had none and
-- Virginia has executed 112 murderers, since 1976, and has done so within 7 years of appeals, on average.
The Bishops are very aware that Nebraska has the "means available" to duplicate those two examples, but chose a less responsible path, instead.
2) From the 168 victims in the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Bishops use only one anti death penalty voice, Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was murdered in that bombing, to speak in opposition to the death penalty.
The Bishops also presented Mariam Thimm Kelle, whose brother, Jim, was, gruesomely, tortured over a long period of time, then murdered in a capital crime, by murderer Michael Ryan, Her complaints were that appeals go on and on and that way too much attention is paid to the murderer but not to her brother.
The Bishops act as if they just missed it. How? Well no, of course they knew.
Reality Opposes the Bishops, Again.
It appears that in excess of 95% of the murder victims' survivors, from that bombing, are in favor of the death penalty (7), reflecting other examples, with similar huge support percentages, from other specific death penalty eligible murders (7).
Did the Bishops show any interest in the opinions of those loved ones, who, overwhelmingly, support the death penalty? None.
Such is common for anti death penalty folks, who often cause more harm (8) to those victim survivors, who support the justice of the death penalty, as well as its uncontested ability to protect additional innocents, to a higher degree than any other sanction (6).
Thimm Kelle is right to complain, but Nebraska, as other states have the means necessary to shorten appeals, as detailed and as the Bishops well know.
Anti death penalty folks and the media, overwhelmingly, concentrate on the murderers and not their victims (8). It would be great if the Bishops would start a public campaign to help change that. Possibly, the Bishops could start with this group (9).
c) The Bishops say the death penalty is too costly: "It is well established that pursuing the death penalty results in considerably greater costs than life imprisonment. The non partisan Death Penalty Information Center concluded, in 2013, that Nebraska had spent $100 million on death penalty cases since 1976."
More Bishop False Teachings
-- The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) is a very well known anti death penalty group, which perpetrates some of the greatest deceptions in the death penalty debate (10).
It is, consistent, that such would be the Bishops' source.
-- The Bishops may be, completely, unaware, because they do not fact check, in willful opposition to the truth.
-- The proof for the $100 million cost claim? It doesn't exist.
-- If the Bishops did fact check, they would know that some studies find the death penalty is less costly than life without parole (LWOP) (11) and that many of the studies finding the death penalty more expensive than LWOP are, completely, unreliable (11).
But, the Bishops will not fact check their own claims, for obvious reasons.
--- The Bishops are well aware that in Nebraska's last legislative session, that three fiscal notes found no state savings in death penalty repeal.
Such non disclosure reflects, again, very poorly, on the Bishops.
As far as I know, there are no details to support the fiscal notes, which were, allegedly, based upon inquiries to all those state agencies which deal with the death penalty, all of whom, allegedly, stated that with death penalty repeal there would be little to no effect on their budgets.
d) The Bishops find that the death penalty less humane than LWOP.
The Bishops should review the eternal reasons for the death penalty, detailed in 2000 years of Catholic teachings (1), as opposed to relying upon the secular.
1) a) All Catholics May Support The Death Penalty
c) Four Catholic Journals Indulge in (anti death penalty) Doctrinal Solipsism,
Stephen Long, THOMISTICA, March 5, 2015,
d) The Bishops, constantly, invoke secular anti death penalty errors, without fact checking. Fact checking is required. This is my basic pro death penalty introduction, countering all basic anti death penalty claims used by the Bishops. Fact checking welcome.
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents
e) "Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment", Part 1, Edward Feser , Joseph M. Bessette, Catholic World Report, July 17, 2016,http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4928/why_the_church_cannot_reverse_past_teaching_on_capital_punishment.aspx
"Why the Death Penalty is Still Necessary", Part 2, Edward Feser, Joseph M. Bessette, Catholic Word Report, July 21, 2016,
f) Rebuttal of Four Catholic Publications Call For End to Capital Punishment,
g) New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming
2) 3 WAYS CATHOLICS MISUNDERSTAND THE DEATH PENALTY, Archdiocese of Omaha, August 23, 2016,
3) “Capital Punishment and the Law”, Ave Maria Law Review, 2007 (30 pp), Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 2002) and Ordinary Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University(Rome) and Permanent Research Fellow - Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture (University of Notre Dame)
4) Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position:
The Catechism & Section 2267
5) Watch the video first.
VIDEO: ARCHBISHOP LUCAS ON THE DEATH PENALTY, Archdiocese of Omaha, 8/3/16, http://archomaha.org/2016/10/video-archbishop-lucas-death-penalty/
6) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
The Catechism and State Protection
7) 95% Death Penalty Support by Capital Murder Survivors
8) Anti Victim: Anti Death Penalty Movement
9) Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims
10) See DPIC in Sections 3&4
The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
11) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty