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Is Amy Coney Barrett ’s Religion Really the Issue?

It’s remarkable that almost everything that goes on in America’s political life these days is affected by the lies the anti-American leadership of the elitist faction is determined to plant in the soul of the American people, to disintegrate it.  For the past few days I’ve been reading about the United States Senators who are apparently seeking to apply a religious test to Notre Dame Professor Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for a position on U.S. Circuit Court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Apparently, anti-Catholic Democrats are raising a fuss.  They claim that, in her writing and speeches, she has somehow shown herself to be someone who would apply her religious views, rather than “the law”, when deciding cases.  

One report, however, seeking to debunk this notion with fact, says that “The Truth is so much tamer, however.”:  

In 1998, Barrett coauthored an article published by the Notre Dame Law Review entitled “Catholic Judge in Capital Cases, in which she suggested that in death penalty cases Catholic judges should be allowed to seek recusal. 

On the face of it, it makes perfect sense to ask that scrupulous judges be allowed to recuse themselves in cases where they have good reason to believe their deeply held religious convictions will prevent them from applying “the law”.  However, if the main example in this case is Roman Catholic doctrine regarding the death penalty, it’s hard to understand why Professor Barrett thinks this would be necessary. 

To be sure, the death penalty is, by law, mandatory in certain circumstances, in some states.  Some Catholic prelates, including the Pope, have expressed opposition to the death penalty on circumstantial grounds (As Pope John Paul II did in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae.) But their opinion of present circumstances has not altered the Scripturally sound teaching of the Catholic Church, succinctly stated in its Catechism, §§2265-2267): 

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the state…. Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm…by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty…. If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives…and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means…. 

Whatever the strong personal feelings and denunciations of certain individuals or groups of prelates, in including at the highest level, as a matter of faith and morals the Catholic Church does not teach that the death penalty is objectively and always immoral and sinful.  Indeed, as a matter of right and wrong, both the particular good of individuals and the common good of societies may, under certain circumstances, require it.  The basis for questioning the application of the death penalty in our day is circumstantial.  Circumstances always have a bearing on moral judgment, but given the limits of human understanding, conclusions justified by circumstances cannot be absolute.   

This applies even, if not especially, to the example of God in Scripture.  Who would think it reasonable to suggest that the severe measures God required of the Israelites when they first arrived in the promised land validate the view that genocide is not a sin against God and a crime against humanity? At the same time, however, when the Apostle says, “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”, his words suggest that true disciples of Christ must compare their lives to Christ’s example.  We learn a lesson therefore, when Pilate attempts to cajole Christ, saying “Do you not know that I have the authority to put you to death?”. For, in response, Christ acknowledges Pilate’s authority, ascribing it ultimately to the highest source.  Being the very paradigm of innocence, Christ might have replied, with perfect truth, that Pilate had no authority to put an absolutely innocent person to death.  But instead he accepted the Roman’s claim of authority, and submitted to the punishment, since doing so conformed to God’s intention to offer the way to salvation to all who are willing to receive it.

This points to the fact that we must always be mindful of the most important circumstance of every moral decision we are called upon to make—which is the will of God for all, including ourselves, in that circumstance.  Lacking Christ’s perfect knowledge of His Father’s will, our judgment will reflect our infirmities.  People may say that, thanks to present advances in law enforcement, governments are assuredly capable of preventing convicted murderers from future mayhem.  But, since many facts contradict this conclusion, even in respect of recidivism in the most technologically advanced nations on earth, their assurance smacks of hubris. 

Why isn’t it better humbly to acknowledge that there are circumstances in which the gravity of an offense, and the risk posed by the continued life of the perpetrator, are simply beyond our capacity to judge, reform, retribute or control?  Isn’t pretending that we now have the power, on our own, to deal with even the greatest evils, a symptom of the evil pride that may well be the most injurious lie now being seeded into the very soul of humanity itself? 

Professor Amy Coney Barrett’s writing suggests that she thinks it important to make sure that this tenet of humanly prideful self-sufficiency is not regarded as an obstacle to service in the US judiciary.  Is this because she holds the view, consistent with the leftist culture that predominates at Notre Dame, that the death penalty should simply be abolished?  If she does, why should this recommend her to strict constructionist conservatives, who believe that President Trump will fill the bench with people who share their conviction? 

Does the tempest over the quite probably unconstitutional scrutiny of her personal religious views distract us from her possible affinity for a position not at all required by Catholic orthodoxy, but in line with the deeply confused, ideologically secular, understanding of law and government that quietly prevails, these days, at supposedly Catholic institutions like Notre Dame?  That University’s President, John Jenkins, highly recommends her.  But this is the man who thought it right for Notre Dame to honor Barack Obama, despite his adamantine commitment to murdering innocent human offspring  by abortion, including leaving them to die after they somehow survived an abortionist’s best efforts to end their lives.   

His endorsement is a sure sign that conservatives who adhere to the premises of God-endowed rights, including liberty, from which our Constitution originally derives, ought to be the ones asking Professor Barrett tough questions about her commitment to the Declaration principles on which the justice of America’s government and laws depends. That’s also the best way to answer people who have forgotten that a concern with conformity to “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God” is not a religious test.  It’s a test of fidelity to the principles on which our Constitutional liberty depends. 

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 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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