Why is the Catholic Church against the death penalty? This second edition of Brugger’s classic work Capital Punishment and Roman Catholic Moral Tradition traces the doctrinal path the Church has taken over the centuries to its present position as the world’s largest and most outspoken opponent of capital punishment. The pontificate of John Paul II marked a watershed in Catholic thinking. The pope taught that the death penalty is and can only be rightly assessed as a form of self-defense. But what does this mean? What are its implications for the Church’s traditional retribution-based model of lethal punishment? How does it square with what the Church has historically taught? Brugger argues that the implications of this historic turn have yet to be fully understood.
In his new preface, Brugger examines the contribution of the great Polish pope’s closest collaborator and successor in the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, to Catholic thinking on the death penalty. He argues that Pope Benedict maintained the doctrinal status quo of his predecessor’s teaching on capital punishment as self-defense, with detectable points of reluctance to draw attention to nontraditional implications of that teaching.
E. Christian Brugger is the J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Professor of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.
“This book ranks as one of the clearest and most elegant statements of Catholic moral teaching on the death penalty. This volume should be included in every Catholic college library or seminary, and will be a valuable addition to all graduate libraries.” —Choice
“[Brugger] very skillfully describes the intellectual and sociological changes which have assembled to alter the course of the Church’s approach to capital punishment.” —American Catholic Studies
"E. Christian Brugger demonstrates how the Catholic position on capital punishment has shifted not only from yes to virtually never, but also from the category of just retribution to the category of a society's legitimate self-defense."—Commonweal
"Destined to become a primary resource on the complex moral question of capital punishment, this book is the culmination of many years of extensive scholarship by Brugger...Impressive, scholarly, and authoritative, this is recommended for large university libraries."—Library Journal