What does the church teach about torture?

With a new administration about to take over at the White House, all of Washington is wondering how the issue of torture will be shaped by President Obama next week. A good summation of Catholic teaching on torture was posted this week at Headline Bistro, a site run by the Knights of Columbus with a particular focus on “information Catholics need to know.”

Protesters against the Guantanamo Bay prison line up outside the transition office of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Washington Jan. 13. (CNS/Reuters)

Protesters against the Guantanamo Bay prison line up outside the transition office of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Washington Jan. 13. (CNS/Reuters)

We also had a story this week on a coalition of religious leaders, including the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, urging Obama to sign an executive order banning torture shortly after he takes office.

Torture was also the subject of a study guide issued by the bishops last June.

2 Responses

  1. Having grown up in Guatemala during a time when torture was routinely employed by paramilitary groups, secret police, counterinsurgency forces, I’ve watched with horror as the Bush administration and some legislators have sought to rationalize its use in the interrogation of detainees deemed national security risks.
    I am glad to see this post, with its links to unequivocal teaching on the matter.
    My personal connection to the issue:http://followingthelede.blogspot.com/2008/12/hope-is-thing-with-feathers.html

  2. I found the Knights of Columbus’ supposedly “good summation of Catholic teaching on torture” equivocal. The Church’s teaching is exceedingly clear: Torture is wrong under all circumstances. The blog’s assertion–without proof–that torturing the 20th hijacker gained valuable information that saved lives is an attempt to look for wiggle room around the Church’s teaching. The suggestion that perhaps what goes on at Guantanamo is not “real” or “true” torture is another attempt at equivocation.

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