Saddam Hussein Deserves the Maximum Penalty of DEATH

Sometimes I really can’t believe how secularism has blinded some within the Church. Cardinal Martino for instance:

Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI’s top prelate for justice issues and a former Vatican envoy to the U.N., condemned the death sentence in a newspaper interview published Thursday, saying capital punishment goes against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Capital punishment does not go against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

In fact, Catholic teaching up until the mid-20th century specifically supported the death penalty. On top of obvious Biblical commnentary, I offer the answer of St. Thomas Aquinas in the epic Summa Theologicae:

Objection 1. It would seem unlawful to kill men who have sinned. For our Lord in the parable (Mt. 13) forbade the uprooting of the cockle which denotes wicked men according to a gloss. Now whatever is forbidden by God is a sin. Therefore it is a sin to kill a sinner.

Objection 2. Further, human justice is conformed to Divine justice. Now according to Divine justice sinners are kept back for repentance, according to Ezech. 33:11, “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Therefore it seems altogether unjust to kill sinners.

Objection 3. Further, it is not lawful, for any good end whatever, to do that which is evil in itself, according to Augustine (Contra Mendac. vii) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6). Now to kill a man is evil in itself, since we are bound to have charity towards all men, and “we wish our friends to live and to exist,” according to Ethic. ix, 4. Therefore it is nowise lawful to kill a man who has sinned.

On the contrary, It is written (Ex. 22:18): “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live”; and (Ps. 100:8): “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land.”

I answer that, As stated above . . ., it is lawful to kill dumb animals, in so far as they are naturally directed to man’s use, as the imperfect is directed to the perfect. Now every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part is naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we observe that if the health of the whole body demands the excision of a member, through its being decayed or infectious to the other members, it will be both praiseworthy and advantageous to have it cut away. Now every individual person is compared to the whole community, as part to whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6).

Reply to Objection 1. Our Lord commanded them to forbear from uprooting the cockle in order to spare the wheat, i.e. the good. This occurs when the wicked cannot be slain without the good being killed with them, either because the wicked lie hidden among the good, or because they have many followers, so that they cannot be killed without danger to the good, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. iii, 2). Wherefore our Lord teaches that we should rather allow the wicked to live, and that vengeance is to be delayed until the last judgment, rather than that the good be put to death together with the wicked. When, however, the good incur no danger, but rather are protected and saved by the slaying of the wicked, then the latter may be lawfully put to death.

Reply to Objection 2. According to the order of His wisdom, God sometimes slays sinners forthwith in order to deliver the good, whereas sometimes He allows them time to repent, according as He knows what is expedient for His elect. This also does human justice imitate according to its powers; for it puts to death those who are dangerous to others, while it allows time for repentance to those who sin without grievously harming others.

Reply to Objection 3. By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and consequently falls away from the dignity of his manhood, in so far as he is naturally free, and exists for himself, and he falls into the slavish state of the beasts, by being disposed of according as he is useful to others. This is expressed in Ps. 48:21: “Man, when he was in honor, did not understand; he hath been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them,” and Prov. 11:29: “The fool shall serve the wise.” Hence, although it be evil in itself to kill a man so long as he preserve his dignity, yet it may be good to kill a man who has sinned, even as it is to kill a beast. For a bad man is worse than a beast, and is more harmful, as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 1 and Ethic. vii, 6).

In fact, Pope Pius XII as recently as 1952 re-iterates the theme of the previous 1950 years of Catholic teaching, that the death penalty is a lawful and just means of carrying out punishment.

Now I am a firm believer in the dictum summa ius, summa iniruia. There are many instances worldwide where the death penalty is carried out where it should not be.

But Saddam Hussein?

Saddam Hussein deserves the penalty of death. As he lives, more Iraqis continue to be sacrificed to a Ba’athist insurgency. When he dies, justice — not violence, not terrorism, and not revenge — will be served.

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17 Responses to Saddam Hussein Deserves the Maximum Penalty of DEATH

  1. D.J. McGuire says:

    Thanks Shaun, I feel a lot better about supporting his execution now.

  2. James E. Martin says:

    HAHA, next you’ll make the Catholic case for abortion rights! On the right path Shaun!

  3. art (kenney 3.0) says:

    He still finds every Ctholic post to be funny. Jim is just a happy guy…

    To point out, Shaun did not make the Catholic case for anything. He let a Saint and a Pope do that. I am curious though, what should be done with Saddam?

  4. James E. Martin says:

    He should rot and suffer in jail and keep making a fool of himself rather than become a martyr for a stupid cause.

  5. James E. Martin says:

    And for the record, im a VERY happy person ūüėõ

  6. Shaun Kenney says:

    He should rot and suffer in jail and keep making a fool of himself rather than become a martyr for a stupid cause.


    Saddam should continue to be a lightning rod for Ba’athist insurgents for Sunni’s in Iraq, killing more innocents and civilians while Saddam gets a Munich Beer Hall Vacation.

    Maybe he’ll write his memoirs, entitle them My Struggle and be “liberated” by a worthless Weimar-style government pushed into place by weak-kneed Democrats in Washington…

    Guess some Catholics presume to know better than St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope Pius XII. There’s a name for such erroneous thinking, and I’ve seen it criticized before… but I just can’t put a name to it…

    I dunno guys, maybe you can help a Catholic out?

  7. Mental Chum says:


    Rain enough for y’all this weekend?

  8. James E. Martin says:

    I’m waiting for you to tell me why its Catholic to be pro-choice and why ‘Kill they neighbor’ is in the 10 commandments…

  9. matt (not the usual one) says:

    I find it funny when people oversimplify every situation.

    You recommend the death sentence as if you almost in graphic detail know each and every detail of the crime, were an eyewitness to each of them and have bee in Iraq in the courtroom for the past 4 years following the case.

    Remember, if political cases related to genocide are to be built, they can be built against anyone. Do you think it will be (or would be) difficult to put together more than a couple of hundred witnesses against George Bush, Tony Blair, Reagan administration (Iran-Contra specifically to fund terrorists) or the administration that funded Taliban in the first place – to accuse them of similar war crimes?

    The point here is not that Saddam Hussein is an angel. However such exernal retribution for political ‘genocide’ will seldom go down well. After all, there are still a large number of people in Iraq who would rather have Saddam Hussein that anyone else (as is clearly evident).

    He should be let to rot and die like Slobodan Milosevic. Keeping Milosevic alive did not result in any lightning rod for Serbs. Passing on a hasty death penalty is stupid, will just egg them on.

    And it is also a dangerous precedent (in keeping with a ton of other dangerous precedents which have already been set).

    So it basically says that if you are a powerful enough nation, you can go attack some other country and install a dictator of your choice and let him run amok (in case you forgot, Saddam was placed by the US). Then a couple of decades later when he pisses you off, you go in again and hung him.

    That sounds really cool doesn’t it, as long as we do it. I am guessing it wont be so cool Russia, China or someone else start doing it to random people tomorrow.

  10. Doogman says:

    At 7:32 PM, art (kenney 3.0) said…

    He still finds every Ctholic post

    Ctholic? Is that a relative of Cthulhu?

    Hm. Looks similiar…


    Having fun with typos, one post at a time.

  11. Julian Malcolm says:


    I wonder if perhaps AP writer Shafika Mattar is not giving an accurate report of Cardinal Mattar’s statement. True, capital punishment, taken on its own, is not against the Church’s teaching, but the Magisterium has been urging what I would consider pretty extreme caution when it comes to the actual administration of the death penalty. There is a difference and the AP doesn’t necessarily have a good track record of taking the time execute proper discernment in order to ensure an accurate report, particularly when it comes to the instruction of Church leaders.

    I wasn’t able to find the actual statement the Cardinal made, (I think I found it on the vatican’s site but its in Italian).

    In any case, I do think the Church has good reason to continually examine and give instruction on how the death penalty is adminstered. To do that is not in contridiction to Thomistic thought or 1950 years of Church Teaching

    I think there are some considerations that bear a closer look.
    In applying Aquinas’s reply to objection 1 ‚Äúso that they [the guily] cannot be killed without danger to the good,” its seems like a potential risk to the good does exist as Baathist retaliation is at least 50/50 likelihood. I hear you on the risk Saddam poses by remaining alive, but I’m not convinced. There are a lot of factors that need to be weighed in. Its certainly not anything with an obvious conclusion and railing against ‚Äúsecularist” Cardinals doesn’t fully address the argument. And pitting the Magesterium against Aquinas doesn’t quite help either.

    its interesting that you bring up Americanism Shuan. I think some times people like Novak and Weigel are in danger of falling into what could be perhaps be called ‚ÄúConservative Exceptionalism.‚ÄĚ Calling the ‚Äúsecularism‚ÄĚ card and pitting right against left within the Church, (as if the Church is Liberal or Conservative),where no such conflict exists, or pre and post 1950s Catholicism against itself, (again, where no such conflict exists) sounds a little bit to much like some of the silliness that you see in Traditionalist circles.

  12. dudley sharp says:


    There is a larger issue – that is were Pope John Paul II’s writings in Evangelium Vitae incorrect and were their adoption into the Catechism improper?

    It seems quite clear that the answer is yes. Please review, below.

    sincerely, dudley sharp

    Pope John Paul II: a pro-death penalty essay
    by Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    (contact info, below)
    October 1997, with subsequent updates thru 8/06


    In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church decided to amend the 1992 Universal Catechism to reflect Pope John Paul II’s comments within his 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). Therein, the Pope finds that the only time executions can be justified is when they are required “to defend society” and that “as a result of steady improvements . . . in the penal system that such cases are very rare if not practically non existent.”

    This is, simply, not true. Murderers, tragically, harm and murder, again, way too often.

    Three issues, inexplicably, escaped the Pope’s consideration.

    First, in the Pope’s context, “to defend society” means that the execution of the murderer must save future lives or, otherwise, prevent future harm.

    When looking at the history of criminal justice practices in probations, paroles and incarcerations, we observe countless examples of when judgements and procedures failed and, because of that, murderers harmed and/or murdered, again. History details that murderers murder and otherwise harm again, time and time again — in prison, after escape, after improper release, and, of course, after we fail to capture or incarcerate them.

    Reason dictates that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and/or murder again than are executed murderers.

    Therefore, the Pope could err, by calling for a reduction or end to execution, and thus sacrifice more innocents, or he could “err” on the side of protecting more innocents by calling for an expansion of executions.

    History, reason and the facts support an increase in executions based upon a defending society foundation.

    Secondly, if social science concludes that executions provide enhanced deterrence for murders, then the Pope’s position should call for increased executions.

    If we decide that the deterrent effect of executions does not exist and we, therefore, choose not to execute, and we are wrong, this will sacrifice innocent lives and also give those murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again.

    If we choose to execute, believing in the deterrent effect, and we are wrong, we are executing our worst human rights violators and preventing such murderers from ever harming or murdering again – again, saving more innocent lives.

    No responsible social scientist has or will say that the death penalty deters no one. Quite a few studies, including 8 recent ones, find that executions do deter.

    As all prospects for negative consequence deter some, it is a mystery why the Pope chose the option which spares murderers and sacrifices more innocent lives.

    If the Pope’s defending society position has merit, then the Church must actively support executions, as it offers an enhanced defense of society and greater protection for innocent life.

    Thirdly, we know that some criminals don’t murder because of their fear of execution. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. Unquestionably, the incapacitation effect (execution) and the individual deterrent effect both exist and they both defend society by protecting innocent life and offer enhanced protections over imprisonment. Furthermore, individual deterrence assures us that general deterrence must exist, because individual deterrence could not exist without it. Executions save lives.

    Therefore, the Pope’s defending society standard should be a call for increasing executions. Instead, the Pope and other Church leadership has chosen a position that spares the lives of known murderers, resulting in more innocents put at risk and more innocents harmed and murdered — a position which, quite clearly, contradicts the Pope’s, and other’s, emphasis on defending society.

    Contrary to the Church’s belief, that the Pope’s opinion represents a tougher stance against the death penalty, the opposite is true. When properly evaluated, the defending society position supports more executions.

    Had these issues been properly assessed, the Catechism would never have been amended — unless the Church endorses a position knowing that it would spare the lives of guilty murderers, at the cost of sacrificing more innocent victims.

    When the choice is 1) sparing murderers, resulting in more harmed and murdered innocents, who suffer through endless moments of incredible horror, with no additional time to prepare for their salvation, or 2) executing murderers, who have on average, an additional 10 years on death row to prepare for their salvation, and saving more innocents from being murdered, the Pope and the Catholic Church have an obligation to spare the innocent, as Church tradition, the Doctors of the Church and many Saints have concluded. (see reference, below)

    Pope John Paul II’s death penalty stance is his own, personal prudential judgement and does not bind any other Catholic to share his position. Any Catholic can choose to support more executions, based upon their own prudential judgement, and remain a Catholic in good standing.

    Furthermore, prudential judgement requires a foundation of reasoned and thorough review. The Pope either improperly evaluated the risk to innocents or he did not evaluate it at all.

    A defending society position supports more executions, not less. Therefore, his prudential judgement was in error on this important point of fact.

    Furthermore, defending society is an outcome of the death penalty, but is secondary to the foundation of justice and biblical instruction.

    Even though Romans and additional writings do reveal a “defending society” consideration, such references pale in comparison to the mandate that execution is the proper punishment for murder, regardless of any consideration “to defend society.” Both the Noahic covenant, in Genesis 9:6 (“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”), and the Mosaic covenant, throughout the Pentateuch (Ex.: “He that smiteth a man so that he may die, shall be surely put to death.” Exodus 21:12), provide execution as the punishment for unjustifiable/intentional homicide, otherwise known as murder.

    These texts, and others, offer specific rebuttal to the Pope’s position that if “bloodless means” for punishment are available then such should be used, to the exclusion of execution. The Pope’s prudential judgement does not trump biblical instruction.

    Most telling is the fact that Roman Catholic tradition instructs four elements to be considered with criminal sanction.
    1. Defense of society against the criminal.
    2. Rehabilitation of the criminal (including spiritual rehabilitation).
    3. Retribution, which is the reparation of the disorder caused by the criminal’s transgression.
    4. Deterrence

    It is a mystery why and how the Pope could have excluded three of these important elements. In doing so, though, we can confirm that his review was very incomplete and, thus, improper.

    At least two Saints, Paul and Dismas, faced execution and stated that it was appropriate. They were both executed.

    The Holy Ghost decided that execution was the proper punishment for two devoted, early Christians, Ananias and his wife, Saphira, for the crime/sin of lying. Neither was given a moment to consider their earthly punishment or to ask for forgiveness. The Holy Ghost struck them dead.

    For those who erroneously contend that Jesus abandoned the Law of the Hebrew Testament, He states that He has come not “to abolish the law and the prophets . . . but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17-22. While there is honest debate regarding the interpretation of Mosaic Law within a Christian context, there seems little dispute that the Noahic Covenant is still in effect and that Genesis 9:6 deals directly with the sanctity of life issue in its support of execution. (read “A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World” by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

    “In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). (Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000)

    Saint Pius V reaffirms this mandate, in the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), stating that executions are acts of “paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment.” (“Thou shalt not murder,” sometimes improperly translated as “kill” instead of “murder”). And, not only do the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine concur, but both saints also find that such punishment actually reflects charity and mercy by preventing the wrongdoer from sinning further. The Saints position is that execution offers undeniable defense of society as well as defense of the wrongdoer.

    Such prevention also expresses the fact that execution is an enhanced defense of society, over and above all other punishments.

    The relevant question is “What biblical and theological teachings, developed from 1566 through 1997, provide that the standard for executions should evolve from ‘paramount obedience’ to God’s eternal law to a civil standard reflecting ‘steady improvements’ . . . in the penal system?”. Such teachings hadn’t changed. The Pope’s position is social, not biblical nor theological.

    If Saint Pius V was correct, that executions represent “paramount obedience to the [Fifth] Commandments, then is it not disobedient to reduce or stop executions?

    The Church’s position on the use of the death penalty has been consistent from 300 AD through 1995 AD. The Church has always supported the use of executions, based upon biblical and theological principles.

    Until 1995, says John Grabowski, associate professor of Moral Theology at Catholic University, ” . . . Church teachings were supportive of the death penalty. You can find example after example of Pope’s, of theologians and others, who have supported the right of the state to inflict capital punishment for certain crimes and certain cases.” Grabowski continues: “What he (the Pope now) says, in fact, in his encyclical, is that given the fact that we now have the ability, you know, technology and facilities to lock up someone up for the rest of their lives so they pose no future threat to society — given that question has been answered or removed, there is no longer justification for the death penalty.” (All Things Considered, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 9/9/97.)

    The Pope’s position is now based upon the state of the corrections system — a position neither biblical nor theological in nature. Furthermore, it is a position which conflicts with the history of prisons. Long term incarceration of lawbreakers in Europe began in the 1500s. Of course, long term incarceration of slaves had begun thousands of years before — meaning that all were aware that criminal wrongdoers could also be subject to bondage, if necessary – something that all historians and biblical scholars — now and then and in between — were and are well aware of.

    Since it’s inception, the Church has issued numerous pronouncements, encyclicals and previous Universal Catechisms. Had any biblical or theological principle called for a replacement of the death penalty by life imprisonment, it could have been revealed long before 1995.

    There is, finally, a disturbing reality regarding the Pope’s new standard. The Pope’s defending society standard requires that the moral concept of justice becomes irrelevant. The Pope’s standard finds that capital punishment can be used only as a vehicle to prevent future crimes. Therefore, using the Pope’s standard, the moral/biblical rational — that capital punishment is the just or required punishment for murder — is no longer relevant to the sin/crime of murder.

    If defending society is the new standard, the Pope has decided that the biblical standards of atonement, expiation, justice and required punishments have all, necessarily, been discarded, with regard to execution.

    The Pope’s new position establishes that capital punishment no longer has any connection to the harm done or to the imbalance to be addressed. Yet, such connection had always been, until now, the Church’s historical, biblically based perspective on this sanction. Under a defending society standard, the injury suffered by the murder victim is no longer relevant to their punishment. Executions can be justified solely upon that punishments ability to prevent future harm by the murderer.

    Therefore, when considering executions in regard to capital murder cases, a defending society standard renders justice irrelevant. Yet, execution defends society to a degree unapproachable by any other punishment and, therefore, should have been fully supported by the Pope.

    “Some enlightened people would like to banish all conception of retribution or desert from our theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself. They do not see that by doing so they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?” (quote attributed to the distinguished Christian writer C. S. Lewis)

    Again, with regard to the Pope’s prudential judgement, his neglect of justice was most imprudent.

    Some Catholic scholars, properly, have questioned the appropriateness of including prudential judgement within a Catechism. Personal opinion does not belong within a Catechism and, likely, will never be allowed, again. I do not believe it had ever been allowed before.

    In fact, neither the Church nor the Pope would accept a defending society standard for use of the death penalty, unless the Church and the Pope believed that such punishment was just and deserved, as well. The Church has never questioned the authority of the government to execute in “cases of extreme gravity,” nor does it do so with these recent changes.

    Certainly, the Church and the Pope John Paul II believe that the prevention of any and all violent crimes fulfills a defending society position. And there is no doubt that executions defend society at a level higher than incarceration. Why has the Pope and many within Church leadership chosen a path that spares murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives, when they could have chosen a stronger defense of society which spares more innocents?

    Properly, the Pope did not challenge the Catholic biblical and theological support for capital punishment. The Pope has voiced his own, personal belief as to the appropriate application of that penalty.

    So why has the Pope come out against executions, when his own position — a defense of society — which, both rationally and factually, has a foundation supportive of more executions?

    It is unfortunate that the Pope, along with some other leaders in the Church, have decided to, improperly, use a defending society position to speak against the death penalty.

    The Pope’s position against the death penalty condemns more innocents and neglects justice.

    Please also refer to:

    (1) “Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty”, at

    (2) “Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective” at

    (3) “The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)”, by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003



    copyright 1997-2006 Dudley Sharp

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharp(at), 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    Pro death penalty sites
    www(dot) (Sweden)

  13. James E. Martin says:

    Still waiting on why legalized abortion is a Catholic Belief…

  14. Shaun Kenney says:

    Of course, no one is arguing that it is — though I am sure you’re going to enlighten us as to why you’re making the rhetorical point (and open yourself to the awaiting ridicule of Mark and Art).

  15. Julian Malcolm says:

    aarg. james and his smiling mug is a distraction from the real discussion here folks. a silly little strawman for what drives us all nuts about liberals. However, there is a real discussion to be had here on this topic. Can the Magisterium be trusted to teach on capital punishment or not? Or is it acceptable for us to roll our eyes and “tut tut” naive simpleton “secularist” Cardinals? That is the debate. Not James and his goofy rants. Stay on topic!

  16. Shaun Kenney says:

    Naturally, any practicing Catholic is going to argue that the Magisterium absolutely must be trusted to teach on the subject of capital punishment.

    There are two surrounding questions to this issue in particular: (1) what precisely has the Magisterium taught, and (2) is this an issue on which Catholics can engage in dissent.

    On this issue, there is clearly room for dissent (unlike abortion, where the teaching office, Scripture, and Tradition have all solidly come down), the movement to the contra position on capital punishment has been a relatively novel development in the Church — a mere 50 years or so.

    I would argue that given the previous teachings of the Magisterium, the death penalty can be used in the most extreme cases. Saddam Hussein is an excellent case, in fact perhaps the bery best illustration of why the state has a duty to carry out the penalty of death.

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