I have to say that between Christopher Blosser and Victor and “Torquemada” at the Coalition for Fog, they given about the best summary of the Church’s teaching and history as related to the subject of torture.
This is a complex and difficult subject because the question of torture is so topical today and related to such issues of life and death (e.g. getting information from terrorists to prevent attacks), but we also don’t want to be approving evil means for good ends. I’ve been uncomfortable with the arguments of those who say that all “torture” is bad, and then dismiss any talk of trying to define just what torture is.
Unlike abortion—where an unborn child is either dead or alive—torture is less easily defined. On the one end, some things are clearly just interrogation and on the other, some are clearly torture. But where is the line drawn in the middle? Like with a beard, one hair is not and a full face is. If I start plucking hairs from my beard, at what point does it stop being one? Likewise, at what point do we transgress from questioning to torture? Is playing Barry Manilow music torture? What about playing it at 120 decibels? How about 80 decibels?
To some that is hair-splitting and an attempt to justify what we should not do. Yet when I read the discussion between Christopher, Victor, and Torquemada, I find that the Church’s historic teachings may not have been so solicitous to the comfort and well-being of those who might suffer coercive punishment or questioning. I won’t rehash the whole thing here, but before you post a comment here, you should read their arguments.