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(04-29-2009, 06:07 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]QuisUtDeus wrote:  "So let's see, they say it was without protest.  That doesn't exactly reconcile with what the CE says.  It says it was "authorized" which is different than not protesting.  So this seems to be skirting the truth.

Next it says "In recent times..." etc.  Let's compare that set of gymnastics with this one:"

Thanks for pointing out the historical relevance.  However, I think the Catechism authors did admit that Church leaders authorized torture; you didn't highlight, "who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture."  But that's still weasely as it doesn't spell out that Roman law permitted torture. 

But, see, it goes past permission.  It was prescribed by the Pope in a bull:

Ad Exstirpanda

Captured heretics, being...

Quote:murderers of souls as well as robbers of God’s sacraments and of the Christian faith, . . . are to be coerced, as are thieves and bandits, into confessing their errors and accusing others, although one must stop short of danger to life or limb

It's a prescription to torture heretics, thieves, and bandits within certain limits: life and limb.

Thank you for clarifying that, Quis.  However, there is still the problem that another Pope before him had condemned just such practices.  I quote Pope St. Nicholas I, "Ad Consulta Vestra," Nov. 13, 866: 

"If a [putative] thief or bandit is apprehended and denies the charges against him, you tell me your custom is for a judge to beat him with blows to the head and tear the sides of his body with other sharp iron goads until he confesses the truth. Such a procedure is totally unacceptable under both divine and human law (quam rem nec divina lex nec humana prorsus admittit), since a confession should be spontaneous, not forced. It should be proffered voluntarily, not violently extorted. After all, if it should happen that even after inflicting all these torments, you still fail to wrest from the sufferer any self-incrimination regarding the crime of which he is accused, will you not then at least blush for shame and acknowledge how impious is your judicial procedure? Likewise, suppose an accused man is unable to endure such torments and so confesses to a crime he never committed. Upon whom, pray tell, will now devolve the full brunt of responsibility for such an enormity, if not upon him who coerced the accused into confessing such lies about himself? (However, let us not even call that a ‘confession’; rather, such a one utters with his mouth what is not in his heart!) . . . [The Pope then goes on to describe and recommend an alternative judicial procedure – presumably the one followed by that time in Rome.] Now, in the case of a free man under suspicion of a crime: if he has not already been found guilty of some previous offence, or has not been sentenced to be punished on the testimony of three witnesses, or if it is [otherwise] not possible to convict him, then the matter is finally resolved by placing before the accused the holy Gospel: once he swears upon it that he is innocent of the said crime, he is set free. This accords with what the Apostle to the gentiles had frequently witnessed: "an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument" (Heb 6: 16).30

Fr. Harrison quotes it here:  http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html  Pope St. Nicholas invokes divine law in his letter, and Fr. Harrison (for what it's worth) assigns the status of "authentic Magisterium" to the letter.  I'm not quite sure how to reconcile that with later Popes' approval of torture in analogous situations.  Maybe it would be fair to say that we have never had a definitive answer as we've never had a solemn definition?

Man, as fun as this torture stuff is (pun intended), I must get to work!  See you all tomorrow!
(04-29-2009, 06:16 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]Interestingly, one of the arguments used by defenders of "enhanced interrogation methods" like waterboarding is that many of our soldiers are trained to undergo these practices so as to make them less susceptible to pain.  Now, *if* the practices are inherently immoral, *then* it would be immoral to make our own men undergo them.  If captured, our men might be raped or sexually violated in order to humiliate them.  However, we would never train our men to tolerate *that* kind of pain, as "test violation" would be inherently immoral.  The argument has something to it, provided you think the Army, CIA, Marines, Navy, etc., are right to waterboard our servicemen as part of their training. 

SEALs also are "drown proofed" which requires wearing full gear, bound hand and foot, and thrown into a deep pool for a couple of hours. That surely would be a worse "torture" than waterboarding, yet, it is standard training for them.
(04-29-2009, 11:46 AM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 10:29 AM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]I was listening to a Catholic radio station yesterday and they had a moral theologian on to talk about just this specific issue.  I'll have to find his resources to back this up, but he talked extensively on how torture cannot be permissible under any circumstances.  This is not, again, one of these 'lesser of two evils' issues.  He was specifically asked whether torturing a man who knew where a bomb was that would kill millions of people was morally permissible and he said that it isn't.  There are no exceptions with torture.  It is a gravely sinful act and must never be allowed.

I'd like to hear the reasoning behind this.  It sounds to me like he may be working from the same rationale that says the death penalty should never be used.  Even if you can't find the resources, if you remember the names of them, I'd be interested in trying to find them myself.

Things need to be used in such a way as they go to the greater good.  Winning a court case isn't good enough, but saving millions from a bomb might be.  Further, you can't force someone to do the right thing - in other words, if you torture bomb information out of him, there is no merit in him telling or your actions because good works have to come of free will.  Things that are inherently evil, such as murder, can never be used to the greater good.  Fortunately, just executions don't fall under murder according to the traditional teachings of the Church, and, AFAIK, neither does torture.

The main problem with torture is that it usually doesn't work.  Someone who can't be convinced by reasoning isn't going to be convinced by the threat of torture.  The torture has to be such that it will actually break his will, but at that point, most people will say anything just to get the pain to stop.  If you can't proceed with a reasonable belief that the torture will make a difference towards the common and greater good, then certainly you should not use it.   On the other hand, torture sometimes does work, and if the good to come from the information greatly outweighs temporary pain, then I think it could be justified.  Of course, then you have to consider how much and what kind is reasonable.  It shouldn't be any more than is necessary to get the information in the time period needed.

I'll go to the website to try and find some more information, but I think the logic was that murder is sometimes justified due to a grave crime, but that torture is inherrently evil in that it is issued only to bring pain and suffering and not usually as a means of justification.  I'm not even sure if that was his logic, but it seems somewhat logical to me.  I am certainly not of the camp that says that the death penalty cannot ever be permitted.  It can be permitted, but it seems to me that that is based just as much on an idea of justice as on an idea of using it as a means to keep the community safer.  I could be wrong, but it seems using torture for justice isn't permissible.
(04-29-2009, 06:24 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you for clarifying that, Quis.  However, there is still the problem that another Pope before him had condemned just such practices.  I quote Pope St. Nicholas I, "Ad Consulta Vestra," Nov. 13, 866: 

Fr. Harrison quotes it here:  http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html  Pope St. Nicholas invokes divine law in his letter, and Fr. Harrison (for what it's worth) assigns the status of "authentic Magisterium" to the letter.  I'm not quite sure how to reconcile that with later Popes' approval of torture in analogous situations.  Maybe it would be fair to say that we have never had a definitive answer as we've never had a solemn definition?

I tend to agree with the position that there is no definitive answer, but the de facto answer is that some forms of torture in certain circumstances are permissible.

I've read Fr. Harrison's articles.  Unfortunately, they aren't so much an objective examination as a clear promotion of his position that torture is inherently evil.  From the rhetoric he uses, etc., it's clear that is the case.  So, while interesting, that should be kept in mind while reading them.

Really, many of the articles on that site are attempts to reconcile modern theological notions with tradition.  Interesting experiment, but I'm mostly not convinced especially when they say they have a "neo-Patristic" approach, which, as far as I know, is something they've invented for the sole purpose of pulling this off.


(04-29-2009, 07:04 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 06:24 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you for clarifying that, Quis.  However, there is still the problem that another Pope before him had condemned just such practices.  I quote Pope St. Nicholas I, "Ad Consulta Vestra," Nov. 13, 866: 

Fr. Harrison quotes it here:  http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html  Pope St. Nicholas invokes divine law in his letter, and Fr. Harrison (for what it's worth) assigns the status of "authentic Magisterium" to the letter.  I'm not quite sure how to reconcile that with later Popes' approval of torture in analogous situations.  Maybe it would be fair to say that we have never had a definitive answer as we've never had a solemn definition?

I tend to agree with the position that there is no definitive answer, but the de facto answer is that some forms of torture in certain circumstances are permissible.

I've read Fr. Harrison's articles.  Unfortunately, they aren't so much an objective examination as a clear promotion of his position that torture is inherently evil.  From the rhetoric he uses, etc., it's clear that is the case.  So, while interesting, that should be kept in mind while reading them.

Really, many of the articles on that site are attempts to reconcile modern theological notions with tradition.  Interesting experiment, but I'm mostly not convinced especially when they say they have a "neo-Patristic" approach, which, as far as I know, is something they've invented for the sole purpose of pulling this off.

Okay, so I guess I didn't have to get to work quite yet.  :)  You know, just this weekend, I had an intense debate with someone who said that Fr. Harrison wasn't interested in an objecteive examination of torture as he clearly was trying to find a loophole for torture in the ticking timebomb scenario.  I find it inaccurate to say that Fr. Harrison thinks that torture is inherently evil.  I quote him here: 

"For all these reasons, it seems that the exclusion of torture (flogging, etc.) as legal punishment can be seen as an appropriate practical implication of the Law of Christ, especially under modern circumstances, even though such punishment is not intrinsically unjust. I would suggest that the Catechism’s censure of torture (and mutilation) as "punishment of the guilty" (#2297), and Pope John Paul II’s allocution against torture at Geneva, be understood in that light.

Thirdly, there remains the question – nowadays a very practical and much-discussed one – of torture inflicted not for any of the above purposes, but for extracting life-saving information from, say, a captured terrorist known to be participating in an attack that may take thousands of lives (the now-famous ‘ticking bomb’ scenario). As we have noted above, this possible use of torture is not mentioned in the Catechism. If, as I have argued, the infliction of severe pain is not intrinsically evil, its use in that type of scenario would not seem to be excluded by the arguments and authorities we have considered so far. (John Paul II’s statement about the "intrinsic evil" of a list of ugly things including torture in VS #80 does not seem to me decisive, even at the level of authentic, non-infallible, magisterium, for the reasons I have already given in commenting above on that text.) My understanding would be that, given the present status questionis, the moral legitimacy of torture under the aforesaid desperate circumstances, while certainly not affirmed by the magisterium, remains open at present to legitimate discussion by Catholic theologians." 

He *does* clearly oppose the use of force to coerce judicial self-incrimination, such as the Inquisition used.  (Perhaps the Inquisitors to some extent thought that they were in a ticking timebomb scenario, but that's another story.)  We do have Pope St. Nicholas' letter to deal with.  I do admit that Fr. Harrison may be too hasty to place Pope St. Nicholas' letter at a higher magisterial rank than subsequent Pope's prescriptions of judicial torture.  Fine.  For full disclosure, he characterizes the following use of torture as "‘intrinsically unjust’ according to authentic Catholic doctrine":

"(a) Torture for extracting confessions of a crime of which one is accused (as practiced, for example, under Roman Law). This practice, of which there is not a trace of approval in Scripture, even under the harsh Old Testament law, seems even more repugnant to the Law of Christ, even though it was accepted as sententia communis (and even put into practice) by Church authorities for many centuries during the patristic, medieval and early modern times. Explicit Christian opposition to the practice dates back to Tertullian, and the reasons for its immorality were well summed up by Pope St. Nicholas I (cf. B1 above). This authentic, but so often obscured, Christian judgment, is now clearly expressed again the Catechism in #2297."

But he clearly does not think that torture is always/inherently wrong or else he would not say what he says about the use of torture-as-punishment (i.e. *painful* corporal punishment of the guilty) or about the ticking timebomb scenario. 
I can't believe this is still a debate in the 21st century. Torture is utterly evil. If we must pit contradicting church documents against each other - then choose the one that better reflects the tradition of the Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount!

As for Dirty Harry - the whole movie is about a "suspect's rights" and ultimately a cop taking the law into his own hands, so it's a bad example. Like the line goes: "They don't call him dirty for nothin.."

- Lisa

ps: i know, that was supposed to describe the jobs he was given.  the sh*t end of the stick.
(04-29-2009, 06:25 PM)Rosarium Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 06:16 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]Interestingly, one of the arguments used by defenders of "enhanced interrogation methods" like waterboarding is that many of our soldiers are trained to undergo these practices so as to make them less susceptible to pain.  Now, *if* the practices are inherently immoral, *then* it would be immoral to make our own men undergo them.  If captured, our men might be raped or sexually violated in order to humiliate them.  However, we would never train our men to tolerate *that* kind of pain, as "test violation" would be inherently immoral.  The argument has something to it, provided you think the Army, CIA, Marines, Navy, etc., are right to waterboard our servicemen as part of their training. 

SEALs also are "drown proofed" which requires wearing full gear, bound hand and foot, and thrown into a deep pool for a couple of hours. That surely would be a worse "torture" than waterboarding, yet, it is standard training for them.

Last I heard, SERE school still used several forms of 'interrogation' training, to prepare servicemen, in the event they are captured.
But if there are conflicting Church documents on this matter, don't you think it a bit arrogant to assume that it is utterly intrinsically evil, and that those disagree are living in a different time?

The Sermon on the Mount deals with loving your neighbor. It does not promote violence but tells us to accept injustice towards US. Pacifists use this same episode from the Gospel to condemn all acts of violence. But as Catholic you and I both know that killing, war and capital punishment can all be just, ney even positiviely GOOD things.

No one should ever torture for pleasure.
Even if they had a just cause for it and found delight in the act it would still be a sin on their part.
If inflicitng pain as a last result can save millions of lives, I see no reason why it would be instrinsically wrong.

The Church has approved of torture before as with the Inquisition, but like war it is very narrow conditions.

A person could only be tortured if it was proven in a court of law they were withholding information.
They needed special permission from the accused's own bishop.
Then they needed to be examined by a medical team to to see if they could stand the torture.
Then they were shown the torture instruments and warned.
Then a jury would give the go head.
Then they were tortured for only a brief amount of time and could only be tortured ONCE.
The old, infirmed, pregnant and children were exempt.
(04-29-2009, 07:33 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: [ -> ]I can't believe this is still a debate in the 21st century. Torture is utterly evil. If we must pit contradicting church documents against each other - then choose the one that better reflects the tradition of the Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount!

You are quite passionate about this issue, I understand.  Per the New Testament, you should be able to give a reason for your position.  A superficial reading of the Sermon on the Mount would make it sound like slavery is utterly evil, yet St. Paul told Onesimus to go back to Philemon as his slave and the Church does not condemn slavery as utterly evil.  A superficial reading of the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel might result in pacifism, yet we know from the Church that war is not inherently evil.  It all depends on how you define torture.  "Dirty" or not, Dirty Harry certainly seems to have done the right thing to step on the murderer's leg to try to save the girl.  I am willing to say that he was following the Gospel.  Remember, Our Lord Himself in parables compared purgatory and hell to the torments that masters impose on unworthy slaves.  The Good Thief admits that he and the bad thief were getting their just deserts in being crucified, and the author of the Gospel does not record anyone correcting him.  
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