By Dave Armstrong
I agree with what my friend Christopher Blosser had to say in his article in First Things:
I have little respect for those who cavalierly lobby in defense of waterboarding — or, for that matter, those who who bring a cudgel to the discussion — tar-and-feathering as the “Rubber Hose Right” (to borrow one well-known term) anyone who raises doubts about fundamentalist proof-texting from John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendour that torture, like slavery, is “intrinsically evil”, end of story. ( Cardinal Dulles noted himself in First Things danger of approaching that particular passage in such a manner ).
I have considerably more respect for Catholic apologists like Jimmy Akin and Fr. Harrison, who address the issue with humility and trepidation, acknowledging the lack of clarity. Father Harrison in particular can be commended for taking into account the width and breadth of Church history and papal teaching.
Nonetheless, it has been five years of predominantly lay Catholics — some very prominent — in open dispute and confusion on the matter. The positions of both sides has been articulated such that, every time this debate resurfaces in the blogging world, one can predict from memory the various points raised and tactics employed.
I also strongly agree with Jimmy Akin's statement in one of his excellent, characteristically thoughtful and measured articles on the topic (from October 2006):
[having] briefly chatted with Mark about the matter, my impression is that his position is within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought on this, though his is not the only position within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought.” - See more at: http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/01/22/separating-the-wheat-from-the-chaff-in-the-great-torture-debate/#sthash.cMFb1y5p.dpuf
I haven't been keeping up with this debate, including what Mark [Shea] has written about it, . . . I have briefly chatted with Mark about the matter, and my impression is that his position is within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought on this, though his is not the only position within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought.
Here are the further resources (if other articles of a similar dispassionate, non-polemical nature are discovered, I will gladly add them to the list):
The Controversial "Torture" Issue as Related to Catholic Development of Doctrine on the Treatment of Heretics [Dave Armstrong, 24 Oct. 2006]
Waterboarding: Pro and Con [extensive discussion on my Facebook page as to whether it is "torture" and therefore, intrinsically wrong; 5 May 2014]
Jesus' Parabolic and Analogical Reference to "Torturers" in Matthew 18:34, as a Relevant Consideration in Arguments Over the Ethics of Waterboarding and Coercive or Corporal Punishment in General [Dave Armstrong, 7 May 2014]
Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I. The Witness of Sacred Scripture (Fr. Brian W. Harrison)
Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium (Fr. Brian W. Harrison)
Clarification on the Definition of "Torture" (Fr. Brian W. Harrison)
The Church and Torture (Fr. Brian W. Harrison, This Rock, Dec. 2006)
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff in the Great Torture Debate (Christopher Blosser, The American Catholic, 22 Jan. 2010)
Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops? (Christopher Blosser, First Things, 12 Feb. 2010)
What About Torture? (Jimmy Akin, 28 June 2004)
Doubts About Torture (Jimmy Akin, 26 Oct. 2006)
Defining Torture: An Initial Exploration (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006)
Defining Torture: Proposing A Definition (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006)
Defining Torture: One More Thought (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006)
Interrogational Torture (Patrick Lee, American Journal of Jurisprudence: Vol. 51: Issue 1, Article 5; 2006; not sure if the author is a Catholic, but it is a thoughtful article)
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