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History of the Catholic Church on the death penalty

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Please rate 5/5 for my effort. 1000 words of my notes and references are included.

As you trace the history of the Catholic Church's position on the death penalty to how it has changed over time, I offer some help. Although I typically shy from Internet articles, this one is a powerhouse! It is from

The article shows how early Catholic doctrine's responses "to crime and punishment has been rooted in our biblically grounded convictions about good and evil, sin and redemption, justice and mercy. The opening chapters of the Book of Genesis teach that every life is a precious gift from God. From the standpoint of both the Old and New Testaments, Christians affirm that human beings are created in God's image and redeemed by Jesus Christ, who himself was executed between two criminals. On the basis of the biblical witness, even the dignity of those who deny the dignity of others is itself a gift from God, rather than something that is earned or lost through malicious behavior."

In terms of history, the article also examines how "Following the Edict of Milan by Constantine (313) and the rise of the Christian state, Christian authorities adopted a near unanimous support for capital punishment in delimited circumstances.(15) Augustine of Hippo, for example, asserted that participation in war or in the legal execution of criminals in no way contravenes the commandment "You shall not kill" (Ex 20:13). Yet the Latin doctor also maintained the necessity of purity of motive when carrying out a capital sentence.(16) Acting as judge or executioner requires an interior disposition of remorse."

By citing the role of Pope Innocent III (1161-1216), it shows how he "sanctioned capital punishment so long as it was carried out "with justice, and not out of hatred; with prudence, and not with precipitation."(17) In an exercise of the church's solemn teaching authority, the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) promulgated that "no cleric may decree or pronounce a sentence involving the shedding of blood, or carry out a punishment involving the same, or be present when such punishment is carried out."

The article also looks at views of the death penalty after World War II. The article ...

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This solution provides references to document the history of the Catholic Church's position on the death penalty.