PopeWatch: Avery Cardinal Dulles



Prophetic words from the late Avery Cardinal Dulles in 2004:


If, in fact, the previous teaching had been discarded (on the death penalty), doubt would be cast on the current teaching as well. It too would have to be seen as reversible, and in that case, as having no firm hold on people’s assent. The new doctrine, based on a recent insight, would be in competition with a magisterial teaching that has endured for two millennia — or even more, if one wishes to count the biblical testimonies. Would not some Catholics be justified in adhering to the earlier teaching on the ground that it has more solid warrant than the new? The faithful would be confronted with the dilemma of having to dissent either from past or from present magisterial teaching.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. “God condescends to use our powers if we don’t spoil His plan with ours.” Beatified Fr. Solanus Casey. OFM Cap.

    To run the risk of undermining the authority and teachings of Holy Catholic Church is one too great. Yet Pope Francis has a plan.
    The question is who’s the author of the plan.
    Is this change from God? Seems to me that the lives of millions of fetus’s outweigh the small numbers of a handful of death row inmates. Shouldn’t our pontiff concentrate his efforts to save the greatest numbers of souls?

    After all, two souls die at the abortion mill. The mother may find peace again, but it makes sense that she doesn’t have to sentence herself to death row. Death of spirit.

    Who’s plan is Francis working on?

  2. The rational, immortal human soul is infused at fertilization of the egg by the sperm and a newly begotten human being comes into existence. God is existence. God creates the human soul in original innocence. God does not create evil, nor does God create concupiscence, nor hell. The evil done is by the evil one.
    Jesus, the Son of God kept God’s Word. Mary kept God’s Word. The souls aborted are martyrs to the Truth.
    If the condemned murderer of homicide in the first degree does not expire with grief over his crime, then execution through his citizenship and power of attorney is the only course remaining and necessary to deter homicide, protect society and bring the murderer to Justice, his own Justice.
    Thank you for the words of Avery Cardinal Dulles.

  3. It’s an easy dissent. The most murderous large region by UN stats is non death penalty post Catholic northern Latin America. The safest from murder is death penalty dominant East Asia. Ccc 2267 has two errors: it changed the universal meaning of deterrence to mean only deterring the murderer you caught instead of future murderers also…and it projected the unusual safety of several European prisons onto the whole world with great inaccuracy. I wouldn’t vote in accordance with ccc 2267…new or old.
    It’s actually a tragic mistake in both forms. Realistically, few nation leaders think the magisterium is an expert on penology…given that it took us 50 years to stop shuttling our own criminals from parish to parish…if in fact we have stopped at all in the farther reaches of the earth away from camera eyes. Secondly nation leaders know from his thousand and one soundbites to the press on airplanes…that Pope Francis lacks the gravitas needed in dead serious matters. His “ Stop ISIS…I do not say bomb”….ended all credibility he might have had with actual people making life and death decisions.

  4. “The faithful would be confronted with the dilemma of having to dissent either from past or from present magisterial teaching.”
    Something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. One IS magisterial and the other not. Reason and Faith Guide us to only one conclusion.

  5. Seems like with this “Pope”, to squeeze his square words into the round hole of orthodoxy, it’s always a question of what the meaning of “is” is. He is congenitally incapable of his “yes” meaning yes, and his “no” meaning no.

  6. This Pope is also fond of saying “our God is a God of surprises”, but I think doesn’t reflect on “surprise” is not a Word in the Divine Vocabulary.
    There must be continuity in Teaching, how could there not be?
    The Almighty is never “surprised”.
    That’s also a point of solace for us in these tough times.

  7. Bill,

    “Ccc 2267 has two errors”

    It has a third error: It fails to take cognizance of the other just ends of punishment long recognized in Church teaching: specifically, retribution.

  8. Since Pope Bozo has discovered a dignity of all humanity (that is somehow attacked by capital punishment) which also escaped Aquinas, Trent, Scripture & Jesus Christ I have one question; if my family is attacked am I allowed to use lethal force to protect them or should we all submit to violence lest we offend the dignity of the attacker?

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