Back to Basics: “T” is for Torture

bishoprosazza02Did the Catholic Church teach so much about abortion that it forgot to teach about torture?

Fifty-one percent of non-Hispanic U.S. Catholics think that torture is “often” or “sometimes” justified, according to the recent Pew study.

Below I’m posting the here the recent commentary by the Hartford, Connecticut-Catholic Bishop Peter A. Rosazza straightening Catholics out on why torture is never justified under any circumstance.

And below that is the section on torture from The Catholic Social Doctrine Compendium.

The use of torture against prisoners in light of 9-11 and our war against terror surfaced several years ago when such abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Guantánamo and Afghanistan came to light. Much of this is documented by former President Jimmy Carter in his book, Our Endangered Values, published in September, 2006. He writes, “Military officials reported that at least 108 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and other secret locations just since 2002 with homicide acknowledged as the cause of death in at least 28 cases.”

A problem in this debate surfaces in statements of those who
say that these techniques had to be used in order to protect our
country. But does the end justify the means?

Reacting to this our Catholic Bishops’ Conference wrote
several years ago: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture and an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as justification of torture.”–Catholic Bishop Peter A. Rosazza

Read Bishop Peter A. Rosazza’s full editorial here.

Here is Section 404 of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church

[404] The activity of offices charged with establishing criminal responsibility, which is always personal in character, must strive to be a meticulous search for truth and must be conducted in full respect for the dignity and rights of the human person; this means guaranteeing the rights of the guilty as well as those of the innocent. The juridical principle by which punishment cannot be inflicted if a crime has not first been proven must be borne in mind.

In carrying out investigations, the regulation against the use of torture, even in the case of serious crimes, must be strictly observed: “Christ’s disciple refuses every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify and in which the dignity of man is as much debased in his torturer as in the torturer’s victim”. International juridical instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances.

Likewise ruled out is “the use of detention for the sole purpose of trying to obtain significant information for the trial”. Moreover, it must be ensured that “trials are conducted swiftly: their excessive length is becoming intolerable for citizens and results in a real injustice”.

Officials of the court are especially called to exercise due discretion in their investigations so as not to violate the rights of the accused to confidentiality and in order not to undermine the principle of the presumption of innocence. Since even judges can make mistakes, it is proper that the law provide for suitable compensation for victims of judicial errors.–Excerpt from The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church

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