This website is the home site of my criminal reformation apostolate; here you can find details about the Lampstand Foundation which I founded as a 501c (3) nonprofit corporation in Sacramento, California in 2003.
I have written twelve books, one being about Lampstand and each one of the other eleven being a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available—free to members—and at Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=david+h+lukenbill
I also maintain a daily blog, The Catholic Eye, https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/
Lampstand also keeps track of rehabilitative programs that fail, and the one or two that appear to work, with the findings available at https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/evaluation-of-reentry-programs-3/
The work connected to the apostolate is listed under the home page categories (to your left) which I will be expanding as needed.
Publications: Book Excerpts, Social Teaching & Capital Punishment
Catholic Social Teaching & Capital Punishment
The Catechism of the Council of Trent states:
Execution of Criminals
Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord. (p. 421)
Capital punishment is a rooted part of the Church’s long advocated protection of the innocent against the aggressor, whether through the abortion and euthanasia prohibition or the Just War principles.
The recent call for an end to the use of capital punishment has been built on a underexplored reference to the Catholic historic record regarding criminal justice issues; and the current understanding among criminal justice professionals that even within the confines of a maximum security prison, criminals are still able to influence aggression against the innocent.
An even greater handicap in presenting a proper analysis of criminal justice is the modern liberal tendency to discount and properly understand the hard reality of the deep involvement of Satan in the criminal world, and could it be any more obvious, that within the darkest bowels of our nation’s maximum security prisons, the animating visage is surely his; a fact known by all those living within the steel and stone.
All too many who study criminal justice issues fail to face Satan and his works, but too often excuse evil away as a result of structural sin, and become apologists for criminal behavior, rather than realizing it for what it often is, the work of the devil; and thus does he continue his greatest deception, of continuing the lie that he does not even exist.
As the Catechism teaches us:
2850 The last petition to our Father is also included in Jesus’ prayer: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” It touches each of us personally, but it is always “we” who pray, in communion with the whole Church, for the deliverance of the whole human family. The Lord’s Prayer continually opens us to the range of God’s economy of salvation. Our interdependence in the drama of sin and death is turned into solidarity in the Body of Christ, the “communion of saints.”
2851 In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. the devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across” God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.
2852 “A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies,” Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world. “Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be “freed from the corruption of sin and death.” Now “we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”
The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. “If God is for us, who is against us?”
The Church’s traditional support for capital punishment—validated in Catholic teaching for millennia—is based on the assumption of the reality of evil (which the relativist thinking secular world, clearly influencing the Church in the West, struggles to accept), that some offenses are so terrible that the only just and charitable response is to consign the evildoer to hell, and hope that within that definite period of earthly life he now knows remains to him after sentenced to death, he will be spurred to seek forgiveness.
Support for it is sadly held as a regrettable aspect of human and Church history that none find joy or glory in its promotion, as so well-articulated — though confusing some because of the negative construct — in the current Catechism:
2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender. 67: (Luke 23:4-43)
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’ 68: (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae # 56.)
The difference between the two universal catechisms; the Roman Catechism (1566) from the Council of Trent, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) from the Second Vatican Council; partially reflects modern language sensitivity—part of the modernist, relativist age we live in and not all bad—that treats difficult subjects with a subtle deference to compassion for the inevitability of human sin, but still both hold to the traditional teaching of the Church that supports capital punishment.
The proper response to evil is punishment—appropriately found in Hell—and capital punishment speeds that consequence while human mercy delays God’s judgment, so clearly stated by Christ with the millstone statement in Matthew 18:6.
During the period of the 1960’s through the 1980’s certain religious orders, cardinals, bishops, and parish priests of the Catholic Church—particularly in the Americas—became enamored of Marxist-inspired liberation theology and informed by its anti-capitalism, absorbed the corresponding attributes of restricting the religious, economic, legal, and military power of capitalistic countries and their primary target has been the United States, the largest and most powerful capitalistic country, resulting in strong anti-business, anti-war, pro-abortion, and anti-capital punishment movements.
This perspective unfortunately bled a bit into the arguments incorporated in the formation of the current catechism, watering down the historic clarity the Catholic Church had presented to the world regarding capital punishment.
As the Church now beats back the minor degradation of Church doctrine influenced by liberation theology—a battle still joined—the clarity will hopefully return, particularly around the issues of protecting the life of the innocent through the just use of war and capital punishment.
There are many reasons for concern regarding this ‘language sensitivity’, chief being the relative lack of knowledge of criminal justice issues, given the thought that “bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means,” which, one assumes, refers to imprisonment in maximum security or super-max prisons, yet, there are innumerable publically expressed examples revealing how easily the imprisoned aggressor can act towards those innocents outside of prison.
If nothing else can persuade the Catholic capital punishment abolition movement to reconsider their conclusion that other means exist to protect the innocent from the aggressor, surely the clearly exhibited porous nature of even the most secure American prisons may someday stimulate that needed reconsideration of their policy to abolish capital punishment.
When we add to this the terrible disruption of the sexual scandal the Church began experiencing during that period, though not becoming public until much later, the unraveling of even the settled language, and the rearrangement of the dogmatic expression emanating from the Second Vatican Council, it is a wonder that as much of the hard truths that sustained the Church for the millennia, survived as strongly expressed as they have.
And this confusion was only compounded by the lack of leadership, resulting from the corruption of the sexual scandal, of those most responsible for providing teaching to the Church around the social teaching issues.
Along with this degraded leadership, another weakness in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) approach to capital punishment and other criminal justice issues, is a lack of professional knowledge from the field and an understanding of the Church’s historic work around punishment and prisons,
The support for abolishing capital punishment has long been part of the political left in the United States which the USCCB has moved in congruence with for a very long time.
Recently however, there are encouraging developments for a deeper understanding of criminal justice, social science, and Catholic historic contributions to it, in the work of the already mentioned Dr. Andrew Skotnicki, associate professor at Manhattan College, with his several related scholarly articles and two books: Religion and the Development of the American Penal System (2002) and Criminal Justice and the Catholic Church (2008); and the recent publication in 2007 of the two volume and one supplement in 2012 (as of 2015) Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science and Social Policy edited by Michael L. Coulter, Stephen M. Krason, Richard S. Myers, and Joseph A. Varacalli.
It is from the examination of protecting society that we, the Lampstand Foundation, consider the proper use of capital punishment as a legitimate sanction for murderers, for serial pedophiles and serial rapists.
There is an aspect here that connects to the Just War doctrine, where it is the moral stance around the violence inherent in wars of many against many, where this addresses the violence within the war of the few against many and the many against the few.
The Roman Catechism says this about just war:
In like manner, the soldier is guiltless who, actuated not by motives of ambition or cruelty, but by a pure desire of serving the interests of his country, takes away the life of an enemy in a just war. (p. 452)
David H. Lukenbill. (2016). The Criminals Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals. Sacramento, California Chulu Press Lampstand Foundation. (pp. 219-225)