Should torture ever be allowed?
#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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Messages In This Thread
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Walty - 04-29-2009, 10:29 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by DrBombay - 04-29-2009, 03:05 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 03:09 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 03:12 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 03:14 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 03:19 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by DrBombay - 04-29-2009, 03:23 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 04:31 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 05:00 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 05:03 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Melita - 04-29-2009, 05:23 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 05:32 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Walty - 04-29-2009, 06:57 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 07:33 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Texican - 04-29-2009, 07:45 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 08:20 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 08:26 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Historian - 04-29-2009, 08:30 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 08:45 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by SCG - 04-29-2009, 09:07 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by Marc - 04-29-2009, 09:40 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 04-30-2009, 08:14 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 04-30-2009, 09:45 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 04-30-2009, 10:27 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 04-30-2009, 11:01 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 09-02-2009, 11:19 AM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by glgas - 09-02-2009, 01:50 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 09-02-2009, 03:16 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 09-02-2009, 09:05 PM
Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - by INPEFESS - 09-03-2009, 01:16 AM



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