Give a History Of The Catholic Church On The Death Penalty And Note How It Has Changed Over Time. Essay

The journey of catholic churches begins with the teaching of Jesus Christ. As per the catholic doctrine, the contemporary catholic churches are the continuation part of the Christian community that has been established on the preaching made by Jesus. The catholic churches are famous as Roman Catholic churches. The Roman Catholic churches or Roman Catholicism is considered to be a populated community, which has spread on a global context. The operations of the churches are divided on the basis of responsibilities. The churches are headed by bishops who are responsible for managing discipline as per the viewpoint of Jesus. In the early stage, the catholic churches are considered to be the higher legal authorized body. During the middle ages, the people duly followed the pathway of churches. The Catholic Church is identified to follow capital punishment. However, presently, it has a strict negative statement about capital punishment. According to Catholic teaching, punishment is used against a crime with the aim of defending a society and in case of the failure of defending a society from such criminals, capital punishment should be used (Uelmen 355-356).


The prime intention of the study is to reveal the role of the Roman Catholic churches towards providing judgment against a punishment. Apart from this, the study describes about the importance of churches for sentencing capital punishment. Contextually, the study will also reveal the transaction of the traditional Catholic Church in the present day context.


The term capital punishment is accustomed and well known in the society. Capital punishment is also ascertained as death penalty in several countries. The law or the rule of death penalty was established during the period of 18th century B.C. The law of death penalty was introduced by Hammurabi, King of Babylon. Death penalty was introduced by King Hammurabi for different crimes and offences. Apart from this, death penalty was also followed during the 14th century by different legal bodies and churches. Besides that, Britain also established the law of sentencing death penalty as a punishment to those people who are committing any criminal offences. With the inspiration from Britain in providing the capital punishment, America also follows the tradition of capital punishment. It is ascertained that America having the highest records in sentencing punishment through death penalty. It has been affirmed that during the middle ages when British people entered America for shelter, Americans brought the practices of death penalty. Death penalty was mostly practiced in America, but the basis of death penalty varies in different regions (Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center, “The Death Penalty”).


It has been stated that during the middle ages, the Catholic churches are having their own jury or jurors, who have been liable for making any judgment for criminal and illegal activities. It has been observed that during the period of middle ages, Catholic churches made great jurors assigned for making judgment over any criminal offences made by any people. However, it has been observed that during the middle ages, the jurors were making judgment decision depending on races and communities. The lawyers were arguing for punishment in a stereotype manner (Miller and Hayward 113-114). Although the lawyers and the judges supported the people belonging from the same class and race. It has been stated that judges or the churches were famous for the showing biasness in the judgmental process. It is also stated that the jurors in Catholic churches during the middle ages were solely responsible for establishing biasness in the judgment process. It has also observed that the Catholic Church was having agnostic images in the society. The Darrow was having stereotype thoughts for every religion. Besides that, the Catholic Church always supported a Methodist more than a Baptist. For instance, if a person was sitting amongst a Methodist and a Baptist, then the Catholic Church supported the Methodist, which suggested that the Catholic churches are used to have biased decisions in terms of death penalty, as Catholics were sentenced with death penalty to a minimum extent for better growth of the community (Uelmen 355-356).

The historical demographic evidence of the Catholic jurors explained about the concern or attention towards the death penalty. Additionally, the situation of the death penalty is under little concern, as few researchers expressed their thoughts related to death penalty or capital punishment. Apart from this, death penalty or capital punishment was considered to be a blind justice. During the middle ages, the jurors are responsible for making judgments in relation to capital punishment. In this context, the jurors are responsible for taking the decisions such as death penalty on the basis of evaluation about the offences and decide whether the guilty was liable for capital punishment. In this regard, several researchers noted that Catholic churches were considered to be manipulating in the judgment of death penalty (Stevens 1-2).

Although several reports depicted about numerous causes of providing the death penalty, but it has been observed that the people considered death penalty as blind judgment during the middle ages. During the middle ages, the people who had committed any mistakes as well as any illegal activities were threatened in terms of punishing with death penalty. In this context, the Catholic churches were taking the advantages of these situations and forced them to serve the churches and the community. It is also observed that color and races were playing a vital role for the judgment process in the capital punishment. Furthermore, capital punishment was based on the mentality and attitudes of the people towards the racial composition. It has been asserted that the white Americans were more faithful and supportive towards capital punishment. The attitudes of the white Americans were centrally dependent on the racial prejudice and this attitude promoted the white Americans towards supporting the death penalty. It is observed that the people belonging to Black races are becoming the prime target of the White people. The increasing rate of black racial people in America were became a vital concern for the White people. Contextually, influenced by the racial prejudices, the White Americans were becoming supportive towards the capital punishment due to the teachings of Catholic churches (Soss, Langbein and Metelko 397-398).


The role of capital punishment or death penalty was very important during the early ages in America. However, with the passage of time, capital punishment has been restricted to a large extent. During the middle ages, capital punishment was not an issue or a topic of controversy for the American people. Contextually, several people were more concerned towards abolishing death penalty. Death penalty was abolished by the implementation of several laws, rules and regulation (Mirkes 56-57).

In the present day context, the Catholic Church is identified to be based on the teaching of Jesus relating to refrained use of violence. The Catholic churches are developing the principles that Samaritans are called on earth from heaven to punish them for their deficiency in hospitality. In addition, from the words of a Catholic bishop named John Paul II, it has been evident that the use of death penalty is irreverent in most of the cases of a crime or criminal offence, as taking the life of innocent is immoral. The modern bishops are also having a stronghold on death penalty. In this context, the authorities of the Catholic Church have prescribed the fact that the State in its legal rules as well as regulations is needed to inflict death penalty. Death penalty should be inflicted owing to the fact that the State should act as a God’s agent. Moreover, in the present day context, the Catholic Church has prescribed that every human has the right to life and this right should not be violated. Accordingly, the Catholic Church is recognized to devise procedure based on which the consequences of punishment can be reduced on the basis of certain provision that include rehabilitation, deterrence, ‘defense against the criminal’ and redistribution (Dieter 1-2).


Based on the above study, it has been acknowledged that during the middle ages, death penalty was one the most frequent practiced punishment in America. It has been identified that the Catholic churches were having a stereotype judgmental system. The lawyers and the catholic jurors were the main heads of the judgment table or the judgment department. The jurors focused towards races at the time of sentencing capital punishment. Besides that, the jurors were identified to be taking advantages from people by threatening them with capital punishment. In this regard, the Catholic Church in the present scenario has been recognized to reform the death sentence practice based on the notion of right to life. In addition, the Catholic churches with the aim of mitigate the influence of punishment has framed certain provisions that include redistribution and deterrence among others with the aim of inflicting death penalty from the State’s rules as well as regulations. The Catholic Church has prescribed the State to act as a God’s agent, so that death sentence can be minimized to a large extent as a way defending the society from criminal activities and offences.

Works Cited

“The Death Penalty.” Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center. 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Mirkes, Sister Renee. “The Death Penalty: What’s a Catholic to Think?” The Catholic Response (n.d.): 56-61. Print.

Miller, Monica K. and David Hayward. “Religious Characteristics and the Death Penalty” American Psychological Association 32 (2007): 113–123. Print.

Soss, Joe., Laura Langbein, and Alan R. Metelko. “Why Do White Americans Support the Death Penalty?” The Journal of Politics 65.2 (2003): 397-421. Print.

Stevens, Justice John Paul. “Blind Justice: Juries Deciding Life and Death with Only Half the Truth.” A Death Penalty Information Center Report (2005): 1-31. Print.

Uelmen, Gerald F. “Catholic Jurors and the Death Penalty” Santa Clara Law Digital Commons (2005): 355-378. Print.