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Should torture ever be allowed? - Printable Version

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Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Texican - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:12 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: Yes. It is torture that has been declared by many nations after WWII, in an era when there was still Christian values that where shared by countries and cultures.

Nuremberg and the Geneva Convention both declared it torture.

The Nazis were given the death penalty at Nuremberg for committing the crime of Waterboarding.

Can you provide your sources for these statements, please?


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:30 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: Pope John Paul II was not wrong on torture. He was right. The citation and footnote for CC 2297 is Denzinger-Schonmetzer.

The  teaching against torture comes out of Denzinger, the Handbook of Creeds, Definitions and Declarations concerning matters of Faith and Morals.
It is Catholic moral theology.

But not everything in Denzinger is of the same authority.  You need to tell me *what magisterial text* is being quoted at Denzinger, and you then need to quote it.  What if it's quoting "Gaudium et Spes"?  You already said that you don't care about that, as it's a pastoral document.  But for all I know it might still be in Denzinger, which -- as a human compilation -- is no more infallible in its own right than the Catechism is.  Plus, who is to say that the Denzinger citation refers to torture and not to the other crimes decried in CC 2297?  Please, please, cite an actual magisterial document and definition.  If what you claim is true, you should be able to do so.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:09 PM)SaintRafael Wrote:
(04-29-2009, 05:00 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: The same "infallible" Catechism that teaches capital punishment is illicit in direct contradiction of previous teachings?   ::)

It is not "of the centuries".  The Church allowed specific forms of torture during the Inquisition.

Moving this thread to theological debate.

I didn't say the Catechism was infallible. Catechism themselves are not infallible. They are books that contain infallible teachings.

I said the moral teachings against kidnapping, torture, and terrorism in 2297 were infallible. The central dogmas in that book are also infallible. That it contains error on the death penalty is a different topic and besides the point.  JPII's errors on the death penalty is a different issue.

Well, you quoted it after saying it was the infallible teaching of the Magisterium leading me to believe you were using it as the basis of that, but fair enough if you weren't.

But you still need to reconcile what was stated in the CE - that torture was approved in a Bull, affirmed as licit by two other popes, and approved for use by bishops - with your claim that it is inherently evil is an infallible teaching.

So, please proceed.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - SaintRafael - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:32 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: Sigh.  We are not debating what the United Nations says about torture.  We are debating what the Church says about torture, how the Church defines it.  Simply because the UN says something is wrong, does not make it so.  The UN also supports abortion.  As you will not rely upon the Magisterium, I fear that you are admitting you cannot sustain your argument.  Note very well:  the UN distinguishes between the use of torture to get a *confession* and the use of torture to get *information.*  The Catechism (for whatever it's worth) condemns the use of torture to get "confessions" but DOES NOT MENTION "information."  We are dealing precisely with the use of torture to get *information* in a ticking timebomb situation. If anything, the details of the UN definition suggest that the Catechism authors were being quite discrete in *not* condemning torture for any and all reasons, and in not listing "extraction of information" among the ends for which pain may not be inflicted.

I don't care about the U.N. The U.N definition of torture was only to give a general definition of torure, which both the secular world and the Church believes is more than just a simplistic generic infliction of pain. It's the infliction of pain that contains the conditions that define torture.

You said that inflicting pain is not evil. I am saying inflicting pain is not evil, but torture is more than that. Torture fits the general defintion of this document among many others.






Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:41 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: I don't care about the U.N. The U.N definition of torture was only to give a general definition of torure, which both the secular world and the Church believes is more than just a simplistic generic infliction of pain. It's the infliction of pain that contains the conditions for torture.

So what you need to do for your argument is to show that the use of waterboarding or similar practices in a ticking timebomb situation would meet the conditions for *an immoral form of pain infliction.*  But you need to do that using Catholic sources or natural law arguments.  So far, you have not succeeded in this endeavor. 


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

Let's look at what the Catechism has to say:

Quote:2297
   Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

I can't find the reference DS 3722 online - the online version of Denzigers doesn't go that far, but if you have a cite, I'd love to see it.  If you even know generally what is says, I'd love to know that, too, because it isn't clear what it says.  It could be referring to amputations, mutilations, etc.

But let's go to 2298 which I find interesting....

Quote:2298
   In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

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:

Quote:2267

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

Oh, so in both cases the circumstances are different today, right?  Nothing like a little historical relativism to define what is allowed and what is not.  In other words, the same reasoning - that "contains error on the death penalty" to use your words - is used in both places.  Same nonsense, different paragraph.

Why does the Catechism have to specify "in this time"?  I'll tell you why.  Because if the Church has a magisterial teaching, through the ordinary magisterium, that in some cases torture and execution are allowed, the only way the Modernists could weasel their humanist agenda into the Catechism is by saying those circumstances no longer exist.

In the case of capital punishment, to argue that those circumstances no longer exist is downright laughable.  They imply prisons and rehabilitation - well, they had that since before the time of Christ, so it was there when the Church stated that capital punishment wasn't a sin.

In the case of torture, a stronger argument can certainly be made for the lack of necessity.  In fact, I might even join that side of the argument, but to say torture is intrinsically evil doesn't seem to fit the theology except by a Modernist approach where the historical circumstances dictate it.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

Furthermore, part of the reason I kept asking whether the direct infliction of pain was always wrong is because people were saying, rather willy-nilly I think, that torture is inherently wrong, regardless of circumstances.  Well, whether a given painful act counts as torture or not is defined by circumstances.  Punching a guy in the face repeatedly counts as torture depending on intention and context; in a different intention and with a different context, it's called boxing.  So many of the acts involved in torture are morally neutral, just as killing is.  I've argued that holding a guy's head under water is morally neutral, too, as I may do so when they guy is trying to drown me and by dunking him underwater I may save my own life.  Direct infliction of pain may also be moral when a guy is coming at me with a knife & I taze him.  So the *means* employed in torture may not be inherently wrong.  So it's a matter of ends, circumstances, and proportionality.  I may dunk people's heads underwater to make them think they're drowning, or even to drown them, in order to save my life under some circumstances.  Is waterboarding a terrorist one such circumstance?  Now, if it's a question of sadism (I'm waterboarding him because I enjoy it) -- immoral.  I'd even be willing to say that, despite the custom of the Inquisition, it's immoral to physically coerce people into self-incrimination.  But in a case of terrorism, the means of severe pain infliction (*some* of which I've shown are not inherently immoral) seem proportionate to the end.  Hold a guy's head under water so he won't try to pull me under and drown me, hold a guy's head under water so he'll say where the atomic bomb is located in the city -- sound pretty analogous to me.  If the Magisterium doesn't address this form of self-defense, it seems it's open for debate.  


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 06:02 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: Furthermore, part of the reason I kept asking whether the direct infliction of pain was always wrong is because people were saying, rather willy-nilly I think, that torture is inherently wrong, regardless of circumstances.  Well, whether a given painful act counts as torture or not is defined by circumstances.  Punching a guy in the face repeatedly counts as torture depending on intention and context; in a different intention and with a different context, it's called boxing.  So many of the acts involved in torture are morally neutral, just as killing is.  I've argued that holding a guy's head under water is morally neutral, too, as I may do so when they guy is trying to drown me and by dunking him underwater I may save my own life.  Direct infliction of pain may also be moral when a guy is coming at me with a knife & I taze him.  So the *means* employed in torture may not be inherently wrong.  

In addition, metal music has been used to inflict suffering on prisoners, because they would not be used to it at all. The guards and the prisoners heard the exact same thing, yet only the prisoners suffered (according to the reports, it actually caused them to try to hurt themselves to escape).


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

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. 

Also, if online issues of Denzinger don't go far enough to reach the number cited in the Catechism, I suspect that's because the Denzinger number refers to a Vatican II document or a post-Vatican II document.  I.e. the document likely won't entail the solemn Magisterium.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

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.