More Thoughts on the History of Torture

I've just noticed that Mike Liccione at Sacramentum Vitae has posted some rather helpful thoughts on the same topic that I was just discussing in the previous post on Shawn McElhinney's take on the relationship between torture and the history of the Church's teaching. As usual Mike displays greater patience and charity than I, along with a solid foundation in doctrinal matters. I highly recommend reading his whole series of posts on this and other questions related to the development of doctrine.


Christopher said…
I think the extensively documented work of Fr. Brian Harrison, theologian and professor at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico, needs to be considered in any discussion of this issue going forward. As he wrote to Tom McKenna's Seeking Justice blog:

Since your comment mentions and links my last year's letter to "Crisis" commenting on Mark Shea's article on torture, you and your readers (and perhaps even Mr. Shea) may be interested to read my much more extensive two-part article on the morality of torture which has since been published in "Living Tradition". Mr. Shea's "Crisis" article was a big factor in prompting me to research this difficult and unpleasant subject much more thoroughly. Part I of my article deals with the teaching of Sacred Scripture regarding the ethics of torture, while Part II deals with the witness of Tradition and Magisterium. My bottom line is that you are right and Mr. Shea is wrong. As I see it, the authentic (and much less the infallible) magisterium, correctly understood, does NOT clearly condemn as intrinsically evil the direct (intentional) infliction of severe bodily pain. Mr. Shea's position seems to me a good example of what has been described as "magisterial fundamentalism" (interpreting magisterial statements in a superficial, literalist way without taking account of their literary and historical context, and the previous history of Scripture and Traditon on the subject).

Here are the links to his two-part article.

Part 1

Part 2

In earlier post about Shawn McElhinney's work on this issue, you wrote:

It is worth noting at this point that the premise claiming that earlier "popes and councils" actually "sanctioned" torture is in itself hopelessly vague, even independently of its use in this particular argument. We are not told who these popes were, or which councils, or the circumstances under which they are being said to have "sanctioned" torture, or even what the alleged sanctions were other than threats of excommunication for "heresy".

If you read particularly Part 2 in the links above, you'll find many of those questions answered--in a serious and respectful way.

FYI I'm using an old Blogger log-in to comment here. I'm Christopher Fotos from PostWatch and a frequent commenter on Catholic blogs, including Mark's until he banned me.
Vitae Scrutator said…

Thank you very much for your comments--you're certainly welcome to post here any time!

I'm not familiar with the work of Brian Harrison, so I'll have to investigate the links you provide to see what they have to offer to this complex and difficult subject.

Popular Posts