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It strikes me as rather odd that so many Catholics take the position that this teaching of the Church contradicts the Church’s previous teaching. If said Catholics could succeed in proving that, then they would rather unhelpfully have disproven Catholicism, which would be quite the own goal.
Case - Church - Claim - Catholicism - Claim
Then again, I suppose they could make the case that disproving the Church’s claim that it cannot so contradict itself would not necessarily disprove Catholicism, but merely that particular claim. They could then maintain that, since that claim was not itself true, the fact that the Church has contradicted itself on the subject of the death penalty does not necessarily disprove Catholicism either. However, they would still be left in the position of thinking that the Church is capable of teaching error, which would tend to call all its other teachings into question, too.
No doubt that is why they are reduced to claiming that a teaching of the Pope in union with the bishops (except Cardinal Burke), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Catechism is not actually an official teaching of the Church. Yet that does not avoid the difficulty, since it does not seem possible to draw any sensible distinction between what the Church apparently teaches and what it actually teaches.
Approach - Way - Teachings - Church - Death
Surely, a better approach would be simply to find a way to reconcile the two teachings. This can seemingly be accomplished rather easily. The Church teaches that the death penalty is morally acceptable if it is necessary to protect society. The Church also teaches that the death penalty is not morally acceptable in the present historical circumstances, because it is not necessary to protect society.
There would only be a contradiction if the Church now taught the death penalty were intrinsically evil, but it does not. It says that...
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