Friday, May 1, 2009

Torture Is Evil

Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator. ~ Gaudium et Spes, no. 27

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. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2297

The regulation against the use of torture, even in the case of serious crimes, must be strictly observed. International juridical instructions concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances. ~ Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 404

Given the statements above, why are some Catholics twisting and contorting the English language to defend the CIA's use of waterboarding? Torture is evil. Why are some Catholics in the business of defending acts of evil? I feel lost in the cosmos.

Mason Slidell


BCatholic said...

Because they struggle to understand and live the Gospel.

Joseph Fromm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Are you attacking Catholic Republicans or Catholic Democrats?

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

I am not attacking anyone on partisan grounds. I am lamenting that any Catholic (of either party) would defend waterboarding, which is an act of torture and a moral evil.

Mason Slidell

Michael said...

Your post, as its title implies, makes the argument for torture being evil. I agree with that.

But your post does not make it clear why waterboarding is torture. What is it about that act, in particular, that makes it torture (and thus evil)?

BTW, I was rereading The Moviegoer and all I wanted to know what what a Chindolea bush was! I'm glad I found this blog, though, and look forward to future posts.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...


This is I think a solid definition of torture (taken from Policraticus at Vox Nova)

The violation of human dignity in the form of intentional physical and/or psychological violence in order to use a human person as a means for an end.

So, in the context of what we know from the declassified CIA memos, we know that two individuals were suffocated by pouring water into their lungs over 100 times for the purpose of gaining information from them.

Given that, they were not interrogated aggressively, but were tortured. Therefore, those who legally justified, authorized and performed these acts have committed a grave sin.

Mason Slidell

PS - Glad to know that The Moviegoer is still in the hands of the living.

Anonymous said...


If Kalid Shiek Mohammed had your mother by the hair with a simatar ready to slash through her throat. Government officials had a key suspect in their hands and told you he would not experience any pain nor lasting effects and putting him under the facet was the only way to save her life. Would you feel the same way?

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Torture without pain?


Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

One can certainly be put under a faucet and not experience any pain, I do that each day in the shower when I shampoo.

Suffocation, however, does cause pain to a person.

Mason Slidell

Anonymous said...

The fear of suffocation is not painful, just fearful.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

"The fear of suffocation is not painful, just fearful."

What are you claiming by this statement? That these two individuals were only threatened with being waterboarded, but not actually waterboarded?

Mason Slidell