Monday, March 23, 2009

Stem Cells and a Mayor

Mayor Louis Huning of Los Lunas has announced he will be resigning. He is suffering from Parkinson's disease. He has been Mayor in that community for over 25 years. While I was Mayor of Albuquerque he was one of my favorite colleagues. Mayor Huning was always present at the regional Mayor's lunches that I initiated. He had a good view seeing the region's governments as a close association for planning purposes. He is just a very nice guy.

At the same time I watched the Archdiocese of Santa Fe flexing its muscle to kill stem cell research legislation in New Mexico. I don't know if Mayor Huning agrees with this or not. However, it is hoped that stem cell research can lead to cures for diseases like Parkinson's disease.

It is perplexing that the Catholic Church would be so against the death penalty but be cavalier about saving lives by fettering science's ability to find cures through stem cell research. It is just bizarre.

1 comment:

dudleysharp said...

Catholic death penalty support: Modern Scholars

sent 3.17.09

To: Governor Richardson, staff and cabinet and
Corrections Department and Police Agencies and media throughout New Mexico

From: Dudley Sharp, contact info, below

Dear Honorable Governor Richardson:

There are thoughtful writings on both sides of this debate, but the pro death penalty side is stronger.

Even today, a Catholic in good standing can call for more executions, if their prudential judgements finds for that.

1) Avery Cardinal Dulles:

This recently deceased US Cardinal, in one of his final interviews, states that he thought the Church may return to a "more traditional posture" on the death penalty (and just war).

"Recent popes, Dulles conceded, beginning with John XXIIII, seem to have taken quasi-abolitionist positions on both matters. Yet used sparingly and with safeguards to protect the interests of justice, Dulles argued, both the death penalty and war have, over the centuries, been recognized by the church as legitimate, sometimes even obligatory, exercises of state power. The momentum of "internal solidification," he said, may lead to some reconsideration of these social teachings." (1)

NOTE: Based upon the strength of the Catholic biblical, theological and traditional support for the death penalty as, partially, revealed, below, I think the Church will have to.

2, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.

"There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world." "Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty." (2)

"Most of the Church's teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium." (2)

"Equally important is the Pope's (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity." " . . . the Church's teaching on 'the coercive power of legitimate human authority' is based on 'the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.' It is wrong, therefore 'to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.' On the contrary, they have 'a general and abiding validity.' (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2)." (2)

(3) Romano Amerio, a faithful Catholic Vatican insider, scholar, professor at the Academy of Lugano, consultant to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, and a peritus (expert theologian) at the Council.

"The most irreligious aspect of this argument against capital punishment is that it denies its expiatory value which, from a religious point of view, is of the highest importance because it can include a final consent to give up the greatest of all worldly goods. This fits exactly with St. Thomas’s opinion that as well as canceling out any debt that the criminal owes to civil society, capital punishment can cancel all punishment due in the life to come. His thought is . . . Summa, 'Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment due for those crimes in the next life, or a least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation and contrition; but a natural death does not.' The moral importance of wanting to make expiation also explains the indefatigable efforts of the Confraternity of St. John the Baptist Beheaded, the members of which used to accompany men to their deaths, all the while suggesting, begging and providing help to get them to repent and accept their deaths, so ensuring that they would die in the grace of God, as the saying went." (3)

Some opposing capital punishment " . . . go on to assert that a life should not be ended because that would remove the possibility of making expiation, is to ignore the great truth that capital punishment is itself expiatory. In a humanistic religion expiation would of course be primarily the converting of a man to other men. On that view, time is needed to effect a reformation, and the time available should not be shortened. In God’s religion, on the other hand, expiation is primarily a recognition of the divine majesty and lordship, which can be and should be recognized at every moment, in accordance with the principle of the concentration of one’s moral life." (3)

Some death penalty opponents "deny the expiatory value of death; death which has the highest expiatory value possible among natural things, precisely because life is the highest good among the relative goods of this world; and it is by consenting to sacrifice that life, that the fullest expiation can be made. And again, the expiation that the innocent Christ made for the sins of mankind was itself effected through his being condemned to death." (3)


Many other modern and ancient scholars

"Christian Scholars & Saints: Support for the Death Penalty", at

"Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective",
by Br. Augustine (Emmanuel Valenza)

"Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice", Prof. J. Budziszewski, First Things, August / September 2004

"A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

"God’s Justice and Ours" by US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, First Things, 5/2002

"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


1) "An unpublished interview with Avery Dulles", All Things Catholic by John L. Allen, Jr.,, Posted on Dec 19, 2008, at

2) "Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching", Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., 1998

3) "Amerio on capital punishment ", Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum, May 25, 2007 ,

about Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

about Romano Amerio