Torture and the Catholic Church

CCC 2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

I have been giving this subject a lot of thought lately. I have actually been thinking about it for a few years, but was a coming and going thought and with the rigors of daily life, I never sat down to read up on the teachings of the Church on the subject. I my heart I knew it was wrong, but so many people were in some ways “pro” torture, so I thought I was missing something. Turns out, the Church comes down on torture much harder than I realized.

I was reading up on the subject during my “quiet time” the other day and came across a blog and this post.

Positions of The Republican candidates on torture and related issues

It has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything on this blog; life has simply been busy, but I hope to remedy things as the 2012 election season heats up.

For today, I’d simply like to post the position of the various Republican candidates on the issue of torture/enhanced interrogation and related issues. I’m drawing my summaries from various sources, so I’ll include a selection of links at the bottom of the post.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Gingrich: Has been quoted as saying that waterboarding is something America shouldn’t do. Believes that Guantanamo should remain open until the terrorists disappear.

Huntsman: Opposes waterboarding; calls Guantanamo an “imperfect solution” but criticizes Obama for breaking his promise to close it.

Paul: Opposes torture and waterboarding as illegal and immoral; opposes Patriot Act; thinks Guantanamo should be closed.

Perry: Says he opposes torture but approves of enhanced interrogation which includes “any technique” used to save American lives. Supports keeping Guantanamo open.

Romney: Favors enhanced interrogation techniques and will not say whether waterboarding qualifies as such a technique. Has said Guantanamo could be doubled in size if needed.

Santorum: Voted to renew Patriot Act. Would continue using Guantanamo for terror suspects. Says that waterboarding is effective. Said John McCain didn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works, that the object is to break a man so he will become cooperative.


The current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and our former Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II both addressed torture. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said,

“In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances”

He was repeating what Blessed John Paul II wrote, in 2004,

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”.[830] International juridical instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances.




Filed under: Catholic, General Stuff, Social Commentary

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