Rick Santorum: Pro-Torture Catholic

There’s something grimly ironic in a contemporary politician claiming to be a serious Catholic while supporting the torture of prisoners. But this is what Rick Santorum does: he supports the return of Bush-era torture practices.

And this, of course, is completely out of step with the teachings of contemporary Catholicism. In fact, forbidding the advocacy or use of torture to Catholics is explicitly enumerated in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (2297 and 2298):

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

In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. [...] In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition.

Catholics are to work for torture’s abolition. It couldn’t be more plain. The Catholic Church actually learned a few things following the historic debacle that was the Inquisition.

Rick Santorum, however, hasn’t learned shit. Talk of cafeteria Catholicism! He’s against contraception but for torture.

I eagerly await Santorum’s denial of communion by an American bishop—and even his excommunication by Pope Benedict—should his statist authoritarian ideology masking itself as “Christianity” wins the day with Republican primary voters and he becomes the presidential nominee of his party.

Rick Santorum is not a Catholic in any meaningful sense of the word. May he get the John Kerry treatment during the general election. (John Kerry, you’ll recall, was denied communion for his support for abortion).

Torture is not a casual part of the catechism to blow off—especially for a Catholic who may be in a position to order it in the future.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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