Torture goes against Christian teaching

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At the heart of Christian anthropology and Catholic social teaching is this fundamental truth: That all human beings are made in God's image and likeness and each person possesses a unique dignity and worth conferred on them by their Creator.

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For this reason the Catholic Church unequivocally condemns the practice of torture under all circumstances and in all situations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

"Torture, which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to the respect for the person and for human dignity."

Regardless of the justifications and rationalizations offered by certain government officials and other public apologists for torture in this country, it is always a grave offense against God and the human community to torture or mistreat in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way prisoners and detainees. Regardless of a person's guilt or innocence, ideology or legal status, everyone possesses intrinsic dignity and worth and deserves to be treated humanely.

The U.S. Catholic bishops recently said this about torture and other intrinsically evil acts:

"Some acts, apart from the intention or reason for doing them, are always wrong because they go against a fundamental or basic human good that ought never be compromised. Direct killing of the innocent, torture and rape are examples of acts that are always wrong. Such acts are referred to as intrinsically evil acts, meaning that they are wrong in themselves, apart from the reason they are done or the circumstances surrounding them." (Page 311 of the "United States Catechism for Adults.")

Regardless of the euphemisms that official and unofficial apologists for torture employ: "enhanced interrogation," "stress positions," "sleep deprivation" and "waterboarding": under international law these and similar practices constitute torture.

The use of torture by the United States or by any other country is a daily assault on the rule of law and human dignity that must end.

Charles Rohrbacher

Deacon, Diocese of Juneau


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