Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources
  Powered by Freefind


US Catholic judge questions Church on death penalty

A Supreme Court Justice in the United States has criticised the church's position against the death penalty, saying that Catholic judges who believe capital punishment is wrong should resign.

Justice Antonin Scalia, described as a "devout Catholic", said on Monday that after giving it "serious thought" he could not agree with the church's stand on the issue.

Pope John Paul II has personally appealed to leaders to commute death sentences. In 1999, he said capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are part of a "culture of death".

Scalia told Georgetown University students that the church has a much longer history of endorsing capital punishment.

"No authority that I know of denies the 2000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment," he said. "I don't see why there's been a change."

Scalia, a father of nine, including one priest, attended Georgetown as an undergraduate and later taught there as a visiting professor. He talked about the cultural move away from faith before answering questions from students.

In Chicago on Jan. 25, Scalia said, "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty." His remarks were transcribed by the event sponsor, the Pew Forum.

Scalia said Monday that "any Catholic jurist (with such concerns) ... would have to resign."