August 18, 2018

Author Archive | Mark Shea

U.S. President George W. Bush listens as Pope John Paul II makes a point at the end of their meeting at the Vatican June 4, 2004. It was their first meeting since the Iraq war. The pope told Bush he was deeply concerned about the "grave unrest" in Iraq. (CNS photo/Reuters) (March 21, 2014) See stories SAINTS- March 19, 2014, March 21, 2014 and to come.

Mark Shea: What of ‘retributive justice’? – Capital Punishment, Part 7

As we saw previously in this series, the main argument for retaining the death penalty by most Catholic apologists for it is “retributive justice”.  The complaint is that Pope John Paul II and the post-concilliar Church downplays “retributive justice” and focuses only on preventing danger to the community.  The charge is that there is some […]


Why all the mercy for Scripture’s murderers? – Capital Punishment, Part 4

Last time, we saw in this space that the words of Genesis 9:6 (“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed”) are best understood as a concession to human weakness, not as a positive command or ideal, like the Old Testament’s concession to human weakness in the matter of divorce. […]

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The God who wants ‘an eye for an eye’ doesn’t exist – Capital Punishment, Part 3

As we consider the Church’s development of doctrine with respect to the death penalty, the central question that arises is this: “What about the centuries the Church approved of capital punishment? In calling for its abolition, aren’t Pope St John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis and the current bishops saying our ancestors were in […]

With a correct understanding of how doctrine develops, you too can avoid a doctrinal freak out.

Mark Shea: Capital Punishment – A Study in the Development of Doctrine, Part I

Part 1: Everything Old is New Again A reading from an ancient manuscript found in Jerusalem authored by Micha-el ben Mattityahu: We’re all familiar with the story by now. A weak pope with a long history of dubious opinions and reckless public statements has fallen under the sway of a liberal cleric with radical ideas […]


Mark Shea: ‘Skagit Salmon Hatching’ – An Easter Sunday poem

Skagit Salmon Hatching by Mark Shea Far from the Golgotha horror, the bead hatched in the icy baptistry where death had long laid his first parents. Streambed seed sprouted the new life, even while the breath left this little one’s Maker as he cried, “It is finished!” This spring salmon is born of the countless […]

People pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on 23 March 2017 in Jerusalem after the restoration work on the Edicule, the traditional site of Jesus' burial and resurrection. PHOTO: CNS

Mark Shea: He died. He rose. We have excellent reasons for our Faith

C S Lewis once remarked that the difficulty of giving an explanation for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth that is not harder than the Christian explanation is very great. That challenge gets exceedingly difficult when it comes to the Resurrection. Alternative explanations to the old Christian story succeed one another with […]


The Messiah makes an ass of the powers that be

You will sometimes hear that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. The argument goes that this was all due to his worked-up disciples who took the simple musings of an itinerant rabbi and got carried away. He came to say “Niceness is nice” and pat children on the head and remind us to recycle, […]


Mistaking ‘glory’ for God – The Duties of a Christian Citizen, Part 4

Last time in this space we noted that the Christian tradition reminds us that even unjust states, insofar as they administer just laws. So murder remains a crime even in Nero’s Rome and he has the right and duty to punish it. Does that mean we just have to take it on the chin from […]


Hail what’s legitimate about Caesar: Duties of a Christian citizen, Part 3

Last time, in this space, we mentioned that, for Paul, as for Jesus, the state has real authority (a word rooted in the idea that human beings have an Author). But that authority is not absolute. It is a delegated one. This means that Caesar does not have unlimited licence from God to do Whatever […]