There was no universal consensus of the Church Fathers in favor of the death penalty. I agree with Prof. Bromberg (cited above) that the testimony of early Christians as a whole “embodies a strong aversion to the state inflicting death on its subjects” (p. 132). Jesus did not leave his apostles a legal code to follow for the secular sphere. Instead, He provided his words and deeds as an example to follow. In light of this, many Church Fathers such as St. Justin Martyr (c. 100–165), Athenagoras (133–190), Tertullian (160–220), Lactantius (220–320), St. Cyprian (200–258), and St. Ambrose (340–397) spoke out against Christian involvement with the death penalty or urged it to be used. Professors Feser and Bessette, however, try to downplay these examples by arguing that, although these Church Fathers might have been opposed to capital punishment , they did not oppose it (cf. pages 111–118 of their book).


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