The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Got it wrong

Andrew Lynch | Monday, September 20, 2010

Ryan Williams’ article “Where’s the protest?” (Sept. 16) is a poor display of social progressivism trying to twist Catholic teaching to fit its own political agenda. His arguments are weak, faulty, and in need of correction.

Mr. Williams claims that Gingrich’s support of the death penalty and his views on health care reform are positions “opposed by the Catholic Church, just as some of Obama’s were when he came to speak.” Mr. Williams seems to suggest that the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and health care is the same with regard to abortion (which was the main reason for the protests against President Obama). This claim is patently false, and is easily refuted with a correct understanding of Church teaching.

The Church teaches that the death penalty, in and of itself, is neither a morally unacceptable practice, nor a violation of the sanctity of human life. As the Catechism states, “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possibly way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor” (CCC 2267). Although many people believe that the death penalty should not be used in the United States, the Church allows Catholics to have a legitimate diversity of opinion. This is not the case with abortion, which is, in and of itself, “gravely contrary to the moral law” (2271). Abortion is a morally grave act whereas capital punishment is not.

Regarding healthcare, the Church says that the state has a duty to ensure the “right to medical care for a citizen” (2211). However, like the death penalty, a diversity of opinion about how this can be achieved is permitted. Further, although Mr. Williams may be correct in criticizing Mr. Gingrich’s support of waterboarding, this is an issue of quality of life rather than of life itself. Capital punishment, healthcare and waterboarding are not on the same moral level as abortion, because the death penalty is not inherently evil and the gravity of the evil done in abortion is far greater than the gravity of torture and inadequate access to healthcare.

Andrew Lynch


Morrissey Hall

Sep. 16