Should torture ever be allowed?
#71
Slavery, as in the case of Negro and Indian enslavement in the New World, was evil, as three different popes condemned it.
St. Paul's actions is also being misinterprited here. Jesus said when one strikes you to turn the other cheek(for him to slap you again.) He isn't condoing slapping people any more than Paul is condoning slavery when he tells the slave to be obdient to his master. Elswhere Paul recommends that if they can, slaves should try and be free. I don't want to hijack the thread, but thought I would throw that in. If you want to continue a slavery debate maybe we can ask Quis to move it for us.

But I agree with you on the torture thing. See my post above.
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#72
(04-29-2009, 07:53 PM)didishroom Wrote: Slavery, as in the case of Negro and Indian enslavement in the New World, was evil, as three different popes condemned it.
St. Paul's actions is also being misinterprited here. Jesus said when one strikes you to turn the other cheek(for him to slap you again.) He isn't condoing slapping people any more than Paul is condoning slavery when he tells the slave to be obdient to his master. Elswhere Paul recommends that if they can, slaves should try and be free. I don't want to hijack the thread, but thought I would throw that in. If you want to continue a slavery debate maybe we can ask Quis to move it for us.

But I agree with you on the torture thing. See my post above.

Slavery in se has not been condemned by the Church.  The problem with the enslavement of blacks and Indians was that the specifics of their enslavement were immoral -- they hadn't done anything wrong and were just going abou their lives when someone kidnapped them.  That does not mean that there cannot be just claims to enslavement.  Obviously, you know that Indians and blacks were not the first people ever to be slaves. Criminals on chain gangs are slaves (they certainly are not at liberty), and they deserve it.  I was not referring to St. Paul telling slaves to be obedient; I was referring to the fact that he told Onesimus to go back to Philemon and did not *require* Philemon to manumit Onesimus.  St. Paul had the *perfect* opportunity there to say slavery is inherently immoral, and instead he more or less returned a slave to his master.  Yes, he does say that slaves should try and be free, but he doesn't say that their current state is always inherently unjust.  I bring this all up because "Gaudium et Spes" and "Veritatis Splendor" condemn torture, slavery, and deportation in the same terms, yet the Church has never condemned *any and all* practices called "slavery" as inherently unjust, and obviously deportation can be just.  Ergo, it seems hard to appeal to these documents for an authoritative condemnation of any and all practices commonly called torture as inherently evil.

I may have done my argument a disservice by appealing to another controversial topic, namely slavery.  But remember, Didishroom, war and capital punishment are also similarly controversial in some quarters, even within the Church.
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#73
(04-29-2009, 07:33 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: 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.."

That is not the point. Did that scene and situation have another solution and what was it if it did? Did the character do evil?

The situation is simple. A man buries a girl in an unknown location with a limited supply of air. A cop (or anyone) finds this man and this person takes his legal right to a lawyer before speaking to the authorites. The girl will die if this route is taken. So, he causes physical pain to obtain the location. It turns out the girl is dead by the time he gets there.

This situation is not for codificaiton or torture as a whole. It is a scenerio which should be judged on its own (ie, it is not meant to justify legal torture)

The questions:

* Considering he didn't plan on using such methods, and that there was no other way to get the information, should he have not used pain to get the information and knowlingly let the girl die?
* The girl was found dead, does this matter considering he did everything he could?
* What if the girl were saved, would that change the judgement on his actions?

Again, the questions are not about torture as a whole, just this situation.
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#74
(04-29-2009, 07:49 PM)Bonifacius Wrote:
(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.  

But wait, when St. Paul told slaves to be submissive to their masters he was not necessarily condoning slavery itself. He was reminding them that ALL were equal in Christ and to be faithful despite their poor lot in life. I think the book of Exodus reveals God's views about slavery!

Same with the early martyrs. They endured torturous deaths because Christ told them "blessed are they who suffer persecution for my sake." Was Christ condoning persecution? Of course not!  He was telling them they might have to face injustices and, if so, to face them with courage because their reward was great in heaven. He was encouraging them. But let's not pretend that such encouragements are excuses for bad behavior.

- Lisa
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#75
Quote: That is not the point. Did that scene and situation have another solution and what was it if it did? Did the character do evil?

Harry was obviously angry and fed up in that scene. His reaction was visceral and maybe I would have done the same in that situation. Did it pull a confession out of the killer? No.

- Lisa
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#76
(04-29-2009, 08:20 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: But wait, when St. Paul told slaves to be submissive to their masters he was not necessarily condoning slavery itself. He was reminding them that ALL were equal in Christ and to be faithful despite their poor lot in life. I think the book of Exodus reveals God's views about slavery!

Same with the early martyrs. They endured torturous deaths because Christ told them "blessed are they who suffer persecution for my sake." Was Christ condoning persecution? Of course not!  He was telling them they might have to face injustices and, if so, to face them with courage because their reward was great in heaven. He was encouraging them. But let's not pretend that such encouragements are excuses for bad behavior.

- Lisa

I repeat:  I was not referring to when St. Paul told slaves to obey masters.  I referred to when he told Onesimus, who had escaped, to go back to Philemon, *and* St. Paul did not require it of Philemon to release Onesimus.  You mention Exodus.  The Mosaic Law permitted the Isrealites to own *their own slaves*!  So if we are to appeal to the Old Testament, some forms of slavery are okay.  But I digress; it was a poor example as it was controversial itself.

But you *still* have not proven that the direct infliction of pain in the situations we've been discussing is always bad behavior.  You have simply begged the question.  
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#77
(04-29-2009, 07:24 PM)Bonifacius Wrote:
(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 kind of meanders around it.  He states it cannot be called such, but then he pretty much calls it as such by saying "We could reasonably try to formulate a general legal principle, in application of this Gospel teaching, to the effect that the punishment of even the worst criminals should not detract from their dignity as human persons to a greater extent than should really be needed in order to maintain public order and protect innocent citizens. Also, the contemporary magisterium (GS #27) has emphasized also the harm – in this case spiritual, moral and psychological – that the infliction of grave physical pain on another human being does to the tormentor himself."

BTW, what is a "contemporary Magisterium"?  If that exists (and it doesn't), I'll stick with the "traditional Magisterium".

Then he gives, and I have to admit I laughed out loud at this, the argument that being a torturer opens one to sexual sins...

Quote:that role or function will tend to attract in practice, as the only persons in society willing to carry out such a function, those sorry types of individuals who already have at least latent sadistic tendencies, and so will actually enjoy their grisly task. But precisely in that situation, another type of grave sin (or at least the near occasion thereof) will be involved: that of cruelly delighting in the infliction of intense pain, often accompanied by perverse sexual satisfaction.

Sure, for a few nutjobs.  Most soldiers aren't snuff afficianados who get off on killing people, though I'm sure there are some.  Being a priest is a great job for a pedophile and exposes such a person to grave sin (or at least the near occasion thereof).  So, we should obviously ban the priestly office.   ::)

Quote: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 don't think he "does not think" that, I think he realizes he can't make a sound theological argument for it, and he's an honest guy, so he comes up with the best he can - including using the sexual perversions of a few which is kind of ludicrous.  Just psych screen these guys to weed out the pervs.  Sure, a few always slip in, but you can keep out a lot.

As I've said, it's interesting, but he seems to really just be trying to defend the gymnastics in the Catechism with more gymnastics.
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#78
(04-29-2009, 08:26 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote:
Quote: That is not the point. Did that scene and situation have another solution and what was it if it did? Did the character do evil?

Harry was obviously angry and fed up in that scene. His reaction was visceral and maybe I would have done the same in that situation. Did it pull a confession out of the killer? No.

- Lisa

Once again, the question isn't one of success.  It's one of proportionality.  Was it worth *trying* to force the truth out of the guy to save the girl's life.  It seems neither inherently wrong nor disproportionate, for reasons I've presented above.
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#79
(04-29-2009, 07:33 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: I can't believe this is still a debate in the 21st century.

I can't believe we shouldn't debate it.

Quote:Torture is utterly evil.

Do you have a theological argument or just an emotional reaction to offer?

Quote: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!

Well, if you want to handpick which parts of the Gospel you are going to use in this case, so will I:

Then the master sent for him. "You wicked servant," he said, "I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?" And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.
(Matt 18:32-35)

Jesus didn't complain about the torture, in fact, He used it as an allegory for what will happen to those who die not forgiving others.  Would He use an intrinsic evil as an allegorical mechanism?  Interesting question.  I don't know the answer, and I don't expect anyone else on the forum does either.

The point is that we can't pick and choose how the Scripture applies, the Magisterium does, and that is what we are discussing - whether or not the Magisterium has done so in the case of torture.  You and a few others seem convinced that torture is forbidden, signed, sealed, and delivered.  And there is always the reference to "in this day" as if the year had anything to do with the sin.

Well, it does in a sense.  If something can be accomplished now without torture whereas 1000 years ago it couldn't, it may in fact be the case that torture was acceptible 1000 years ago and is sinful today.  But that requires proof and also a definition of torture.

If I don't beat someone, is it OK to give them a psychotropic drug that causes them to lose all willfulness and answer truthfully any questions I pose to them?  Or is that torture?  Or is that some other type of sin?

This isn't as simple as "it's ugly, I don't like it, therefore it is a sin", and, with all due respect, that's all I've heard from the "torture is always evil" side rather than theological arguments.
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#80
Wow, you just keep nailing it right on! Good job.
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