In the coming weeks, months, and years, we’re going to see many people trying to hijack the legacy of Pope John Paul II for the own uses, just as they have done with Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council (“In the spirit of Vatican II”). The process has already begun.
In today’s New York Times, Sister Helen Prejean, of “Dead Man Walking Fame,” is misleading at best and lying outright at worst. It leads with the following statement.
Of the many great legacies of Pope John Paul II, the one I prize the most is this: he was instrumental in helping the Catholic Church reach a position of principled opposition to the death penalty – an opposition that brooks no exceptions.
That’s just not true. While the Holy Father did not believe that the death penalty was required in most circumstances, especially in the First World, he never taught that no exceptions were possible to his opposition. Prejean gets worse.
But that’s precisely what the pope did: he removed from the Catholic catechism the criterion “in cases of extreme gravity.” The omission changes everything, because Catholic teaching now says that no matter how grave the crime, the death penalty is not to be imposed.
This is patently untrue. Go to the Vatican’s web site, look up the Catechism and read #2267:
Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
How does Prejean think she can get away with this blatant untruth. Didn’t the Times do any fact-checking before it published this?
Obviously this won’t be the end. Before you accept whatever you see printed, double check it first.