Barr Rips Seamless Garment

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by Joseph Enders  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 24, 2020   

Leftist Catholics attack attorney general

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TRANSCRIPT

Leftist Catholics are attacking United States attorney general William Barr for ordering the executions of four child murderers.

Last week, the Catholic Trump official was criticized for the decision in a statement by the executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network, questioning his pro-life views: "The federal government's decision to pursue executions is wrongheaded ... [It's] a practice which plainly violates Catholic teaching and disregards the sacred dignity of human life."

The criticism draws from a 1971 theory known as the "seamless garment," which currently equates intrinsic evils such as abortion and euthanasia — which are never good — with complex social justice issues like the death penalty and immigration.

The theory was popularized by Chicago cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1983, who branded it the "consistent ethic of life."

The theory became so popular in the ensuing years that Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2018 to teach that capital punishment is "inadmissible."

Catholic defenders of Barr argue the executions are justified, arguing the God of the Old Testament prescribed capital punishment, that Christ affirmed Pilate's power to execute (in the praetorium) and that many saints believed traditional Catholic teaching on the death penalty — none of whom are accused of being anti-life. 

Despite criticisms from left-wing Catholics like Fr. James Martin, by his actions Barr is pushing back against the seamless garment theory, supporting a more traditional understanding of the death penalty.

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