Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty Part Two





Saint Thomas Aquinas Death Penalty



Dudley Sharp has sent TAC part 2 of his response to the anti-death penalty editorial in National Catholic Reporter, America, Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register:


One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, fact checks anything the anti death penalty movement produces,  resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

On this topic, the Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

“NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

NCR: “(The death penalty) is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime”.

Sharp reply: It is all but guaranteed that the publications editors blindly accepted the anti death penalty material on the costs of the death penalty and fact checked nothing, just as with the bishops.

Since 1976, Virginia executed 108 murderers (70% of those sent to death row), within 7.1 years, on average, a protocol that would save money in all jurisdictions (1).

It is irresponsible not to fact check in any public policy debate, especially one where a religious flock is depending upon the truth, Fact check the cost claims and the studies, next time (1).

NCR: “Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules”

Sharp replies: Of the many options that Ok has for execution protocols, one of those. primarily, being considered, in the Glossip case, is nearly identical protocol in Florida, which is why Florida suspended executions.. Florida has had no problems with that protocol.

NCR: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.”

Sharp reply: Virtually all of the problems that Pa. has had are based upon a judiciary, which has no respect for the death penalty law. Only three executions have occurred within Pa, since 1976, all of whom were “volunteers” who waived appeals. allowing executions. The judges will, otherwise, not allow any executions and/or will overturn the cases, also stopping executions. See Virginia, above, in contrast.

The Governor only made official what everyone knew that the judges had already done.

You may be happy with the judges, but be careful what you wish for, with judges that flaunt the law, simply because they don’t like it, becoming dictators in robes, not ruling guided by the law, but, instead, ruling to spite the law.

NOTE: Politics at play. The five Governors who have suspended executions are all Democrats, as, additionally, were/are the Governors that, in recent years, signed laws to repeal the death penalty, after Democratic majority legislators passed the bills. I believe all those governors support abortion, an intrinsic evil within Catholic teaching, whereas the death penalty is not and any Catholic can support more executions and remain a Catholic in good standing, the opposite of those who support abortion.

NCR: “In a statement thanking Wolf, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said: “Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. … But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”

Sharp reply: The Archbishop is factually wrong on all points. It appears that about 95% of murder victims families, in death penalty eligible murder cases, support the death penalty (2). The Church’s lack of support is obvious. The Church has a 2000 year history of support for the death penalty (3), which means support of the executed party, that mercy and expiation are crucial in that process, offering the greatest of restoration – salvation, as reviewed in detail (4). As Church teaching makes clear, executions counter a violent culture and fully recognizes the dignity of both the innocent victims and the unjust aggressors, which is why the Church’s 2000 year history of death penalty support completely overwhelms any rejection of it (3). Here, again, a bishop neglecting Catholic teachings, which, specifically, conflicts with his dependence upon secular anti death penalty positions.

NCR: “Archbishop Chaput reminds us that . . .  (it is death penalty supporters) who add to, instead of heal, the violence.” Very much like “Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo: (mothers of murdered children) wouldn’t want another mother to suffer what I have suffered.’ Their hearts, though broken, are undivided in their humanity.”

Sharp reply: This is common anti death penalty speak which is contrary to Catholic tradition, as well as the facts.

From 14,000 – 28,000 additional innocents are murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers, since 1973, in the US (two different recidivism studies, from two different periods) (5). Countless murders and other violent crimes are committed, worldwide, every day, by those known unjust repeat aggressors that criminal justice systems have not properly restrained (Google search: crime recidivism)., both in complete contradiction to CCC 2267’s “. . . very rare, if not practically non-existent” claim.

By not executing murderers we are encouraging and receiving more violence, more innocents harmed and murdered (5) and, quite clearly, have put the unjust aggressors much more at eternal risk (4), by allowing so many to harm, again, as we know many often do, and as per St. Thomas Aquinas and historical facts.

NCR: “Advocates of the death penalty often claim that it brings closure to a victim’s family.”

Sharp reply: It is unquestioned that execution brings closure for many (6); the closure of the end of the case, the appeals, with the accomplishment of justice in the cases and, from a compassionate standpoint, we all know that only execution provides the closure of preventing any possibility that the murderers will never harm and/or murder, again, as recognized within the latest CCC. Such is not only a great relief for those who wish to protect more innocents, but it is also a large step for those who care about the eternal salvation of the unjust aggressor, the most important restorative consideration.

NCR: ‘The facts of the case in Oklahoma — which echo reports from Ohio and Arizona — were especially egregious.”

Sharp reply: This is completely false (7) and just represents another example of the Bishops and these publications not fact checking, instead, blindly accepting anti death penalty nonsense, showing disrespect for the truth, as well as for the serious nature of the discussion.

Oklahoma’s problems were ones of complete incompetence, not the drugs, as is well known. The evidence, in Ohio and Arizona, is that both executions took a long period of time, as per the nature of the drugs used (7), and that there is no evidence of suffering on the part of either murderer (7).

It is astounding how little these four publications and the Bishops care about the truth, a real problem for their readers and flock.

NCR: “We join our bishops in hoping the court will reach the conclusion that it is time for our nation to embody its commitment to the right to life by abolishing the death penalty once and for all.”

Sharp reply: Again, just a thoughtless parroting on anti death penalty nonsense, with no recognition of Catholic teaching. Is this good for the Church and any Catholic?

The Church’s death penalty teachings are that the execution of murderers is based within reverence for life and recognition of the dignity of the murderer, facts never mentioned anywhere within this op/ed, but well known by all those contributing to the op/ed.

The right to life, as the right to freedom, are based within a recognition of our commitment to the social contract, of being responsible citizens, who obey the law.

Violation of the law by unjust aggressor may result in incarceration or  execution.

All sanctions are based upon that which we treasure – execution and life, incarceration and freedom, fines and money, community service and time/labor.



Catholic leadership, inclusive of both Bishops and publications, has a unique responsibility to Catholic teachings and tradition, making this op/ed just another of many that have avoided both, along with fact checking.

Neither ignorance nor deception are welcome in any public policy debate. Both are, particularly, troubling when dealing with eternal matters.

How often has the Church taught that Truth is paramount? When has She not.

You have the means at your disposal to teach and discuss the Truth, That means has no value if you do not exercise them.

1) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

2)  86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever – April 2013
World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim’s Family Members Support Death Penalty

3)  New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

4) The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

5) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues


Murder Victims’ Families Against The Death Penalty: More Hurt For Victims Families

The Death Penalty: Fair and Just

7) No “Botched” Execution – Arizona (or Ohio)


Catholicism is a religion dedicated to Truth.  When it departs from the truth, as it manifestly does in blindly accepting the talking points of anti-death penalty advocates, there is a major problem for all Catholics.

More to explorer


  1. The loss of a loved one does not have closure, nor is closure wanted or needed. The pain of loss is always present. It is part of being human.
    The man entered the woman’s apartment at 2:30 A.M. raped the woman and chopped her head 47 times with an ax, killing her and eliminating the witness. The court asked if the man wanted to murder the victim or simply inflict serious bodily injury. When the lethal injection fails, in equal Justice, the state has 46 more tries. (It is normal to have seizures and rigor mortis when dying, unless our Constitution can change our human nature)
    For myself, I would like to see the murderer undergo the same treatment that he inflicted on his victim. Then, Pope Francis will not have to worry about capital one murderers coming to stay at Hotel Marta, was it room 201?

  2. When I shoot a man that says he “just” wants to steal my car, you bet I’m increasing the total amount of violence– thing is, “violence” isn’t all equal. Cutting people can be good, as in was when it saved my daughter’s life (cesarean section), or it can be bad, in the case of assault. The goal, reasons and target all matter, not the ‘violence’ of it.

  3. The Death Penalty is barbaric.
    If we are going to defend life – then is has to be ALL human life.
    Contradiction and hypocrisy to oppose abortion and euthanasia and then hold for the death penalty.

    The American obsession with death penalty and keeping people in isolated conditions for years on and awaiting death is cruel beyond words. Why don’t you put your resources into rehabilitation, showing respect for the prisoners, winning them to faith by care.

    Why does America, the ‘land of the free’, side with China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries with poor records for human rights?

    We in Australia are disgusted by the American stand on the death penalty.

    Listen to Pope Francis. Stand up for life, human rights, dignity and respect.

  4. “If we are going to defend life – then is has to be ALL human life.
    Contradiction and hypocrisy to oppose abortion and euthanasia and then hold for the death penalty.”

    That was precisely the position of the Church for almost 2000 years. To condemn that as hypocrisy merely demonstrates your ignorance of that fact.

  5. “If we are going to defend life…”

    Such is the case with the death penalty. It is to defend innocent life against attacks. It is done under the principle of double effect. It is the same as when a cancerous uterus is removed even if a pre-viable fetus is in the womb. It is the same as when a police officer shoots an individual who is threatening another with deadly force.

    It is, as Don notes above, the consistent teaching of the Church. Through ALL its history.

  6. Maurice, if you’re so concerned with respect for all human life, how about some respect for the families of murder victims? These folks, whither the murderer is executed or not, have to live the awful pain of being separated from a loved one by a killer’s lust for the rest of their lives. At least the murderer before his execution can pray to God for the forgiveness of his sin, which is more than his victim got.

  7. “Virginia executes within 7.1 years of sentencing, on average…”
    That suggests to me a judicial system in chaos. When we had capital punishment in Scotland (until 1965), the longest time that elapsed in any case since 1887 between sentence and execution was 36 days.
    In all cases where the accused is in custody, the indictment (including lists of witnesses and productions) must be served within 80 days. In capital cases, the Crown Office target was seven weeks. The case had to call within 110 days of arrest.
    The last case, that of Henry John Burnet, was typical. The murder had been committed on 31 May 1963 and Burnett was arrested the same day. The trial took place before Lord Wheatley, the Lord Justice-Clerk and was a lengthy one, lasting from the 23 to 25 July. The jury took 25 minutes to reject pleas of insanity and diminished responsibility by a majority of 13-2. Leave to appeal was refused and he was hanged on 15 August, surviving his victim by 11 weeks.
    The case of the last woman hanged, Susan Newell was similar. The murder was committed on the 20 June 1923 and she was arrested the following day. The trial took place on the 18 and 19 September. After 35 minuted, the jury convicted her by a majority and she was hanged on 10 October, just over 11 weeks after her arrest.
    Section 72 of the 1887 Act – “All interlocutors and sentences pronounced by the High Court of Justiciary under the authority of this Act shall be final and conclusive, and not subject to review by any court whatsoever, and it shall be incompetent to stay or suspend any execution or diligence issuing forth of the High Court of Justiciary under the authority of the same,” ensured due expedition. This did not affect the Royal Prerogative and about half of capital sentences were commuted.

  8. The Death Penalty is barbaric.

    Defending the slaughterers of the innocent from justice or even being stopped is barbaric.
    You want to respect the prisoners? Treat them like they’re moral beings, instead of animals that can’t be held to a moral standard of not killing those who were not a threat to life and limb. Less than animals– animals that are known to stalk and kill humans are put down, because they are dangerous to the innocent.
    Why does America, the ‘land of the free’, side with China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries with poor records for human rights?
    They also love their children– as have those through the Church’s history that have defended their children with the death penalty. If you could be bothered to research, you’d find that we’re rather different– we’ll even defend other people’s children.
    We in Australia are disgusted by the American stand on the death penalty.
    We in America are disgusted by the stripping of the right to self defense that is sadly common in Europe and Her Majesty’s areas.
    It’s cowardly, how the very government that is supposed to protect the good people instead attacks them, the safer target, should they try to protect the precious gift of life granted to them by God Himself.
    Fallacies I spotted:
    Equivocation and assuming the conclusion, argument by assertion, false choice; argument by assertion, ad hominem, assumes the conclusion;
    appeal to emotion, argument by assertion, ad hominem/slander, conclusion against evidence/red herring/false result;
    appeal to emotion, equivocation, association fallacy, selective ignoring of evidence;
    appeal to emotion, argument ad populum;
    appeal to authority, assuming the conclusion.

  9. That suggests to me a judicial system in chaos. When we had capital punishment in Scotland (until 1965), the longest time that elapsed in any case since 1887 between sentence and execution was 36 days.

    Given that we already know you guys use odd definitions for most anything, what did sentence mean at that time?
    Here, we can still appeal after sentencing.
    If that’s what you guys think of when you hear capital punishment, no wonder y’all flip.
    That information does explain the definition of “murder rate” as “those where the murder is convicted and ran out of appeals,” though.

  10. and not subject to review by any court whatsoever,

    Ah, meaning that there was no appeal.
    That sounds like a justice system that’s flat broken.

  11. Foxfier wrote, “That information does explain the definition of “murder rate” as “those where the murder is convicted and ran out of appeals,” though.” The time for a reclaiming motion is 10 days after sentence.

    “Sentence” means a final determination, as opposed to an interlocutor, such as a ruling on the relevancy of the indictment, that certain evidence is inadmissible and the like.

    There can be no appeal to a higher court (as there can be from the Sheriff Court to the High Court) for there is none.

    Any ruling by a single judge can be re-examined by a larger bench, typically three judges, but, if the court is being asked to overrule a former precedent, five or even seven judges would sit. Grounds of appeal are the familiar ones; (1) that the trial judge had misdirected the jury; and (2) that he had admitted inadmissible or excluded admissible evidence. As these matters would normally have been fully canvassed at the trial, the parties would be in a position to argue their case more or less immediately. Most appeals in capital cases, which took precedence over all other business, were heard within a fortnight of sentence.

    In England, by contrast, there could be an appeal from the Assize Court (the trial court) to the Court of Criminal Appeal and from that court to the House of Lords; a process that could take months. As an act of humanity, if the CCA quashed the conviction and the HL restored it, the prisoner was invariably reprieved.

    How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

  12. How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

    Due process I guess. Heavy on the “process,” light on the “due.”

    So we’re not barbaric about the death penalty. Quite the opposite in fact. We’re civilized. Like the Byzantines.

  13. How, in any circumstances, the process can take years I still find baffling.

    There are plenty of websites that can explain the entire process, with enough detail to avoid mistakes about what is actually being read.
    Due process I guess. Heavy on the “process,” light on the “due.”
    Because it’s so much better to assume that the sentence is correct so that things can be nice and short, to release known monsters after a few years and prevent them from being identifiable time after time, or to send people to jail for the crime of raising a hand in defense of their lives or family.
    It’s easy to cry out for respecting all life when it means only facing the safe battles, rather than fighting the murderers.

  14. You know what gets me. I’ve never heard of a Catholic bishop making rounds, and making scheduled and unscheduled visits to congregations on Sundays, something which could be completed in most dioceses with a biennial cycle wherein each parish gets and announced and an unannounced visit. We only get to read their unmediated words in often vapid commentary placed in diocesan newsletters. A bishop can compose something that might be pondered in the future or he can compose something that addresses contemporary problems, or he can compose something derived from the day’s readings. What I cannot figure is the sense of priorities which induces them to make such efforts in advancing a dubious position regarding capital sentencing. It’s almost as if they’re begging people to pay them no mind.

  15. Because it’s so much better to assume that the sentence is correct

    Their may have been an element of sarcasm in my comment. Hence the “light on the ‘due'” crack.

  16. I’m kind of angry about this, because the body count is adding up in my area. Typed and deleted several versions, but that’s the long and short of it.

  17. Man does not create life. Man procreates life. God gives man the power to procreate life. God creates and immediately animates the human being, man has procreated, with animation by the infused, endowed, immortal, rational human soul. For this reason our Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” “Equal” means that no one person, or other, is above or beyond the law of equal Justice.
    Man’s immortal human soul is endowed with sovereignty, that is, sovereign personhood, free will, intellect, reason, and the ability to love in “agape”. In Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “Eros can only be engaged through agape” Man’s “will to live” is the principled Right to Life.
    I was physically sickened last night hearing Pope Francis call for a blanket amnesty for capital one murderers, those who lie in wait and plot the murder of his neighbor in violation of God’s command to: “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Now, if Pope Francis can guarantee eternal life in heaven, I will be the first one in line for a guaranteed heaven. Pope Francis sadly, tragically and unfortunately cannot guarantee heaven for me or any other capital one murderers. Every individual person must work out their salvation. The founding principles call this “the pursuit of Happiness” To delay or put stumbling blocks in the way of perfection for any human being is Satan’s work.
    Killing innocent human beings (innocent of capital one homicide) through abortion, assisted suicide and or euthanasia disengages the state of the power to secure the Blessings of Liberty. And further disables the state from the power to defend the innocent. Giving murderers carte blanch, open season to kill at will, randomly, for no apparent reason is insane and anyone who does so is as ignorant as a door stop. Cold blooded killers to be set at large to prey on the innocent as so much rabbits is unconscionable.
    Abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide will be separated from their consequences. The state will be separated from their responsibility and the citizens will be taxed without representation. A totalitarian and atheistic, anti-theist form of government will be set into place. The acknowledgement of a Triune God of three Persons and man’s image of the sovereign person of God will be obliterated from the face of the earth. The free will of man will only be exercised by the powerful. Civilization will be no more. Man will be defined by Cain, who killed a man for striking him or got in his way. Man will be defined as the barbarians who offered human sacrifice and immolated their offspring, their posterity, their children to Moloch. Human sacrifice will now be redefined as killing the neighbor instead of mortifying oneself.
    This morning brought relief only as I read The American Catholic’s stand on the death penalty.

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