A doctrine refers to a body of instructions or teachings in a branch of knowledge. Moreover, a doctrine can be explained as a principle of law that is established through a history of past decisions, and is accepted either by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group. Contrary, a dogma refers to set of principles by an authority that is considered incontrovertibly true. A dogma serves as a primary basis part of an ideology, and a change in a dogma leads to effects in a systems way of administration. Dogmas are further defined as opinions from a religion, political authority, public, or philosophers. Doctrines are things that are declared as truths by the church do not require all the members of the church to believe in them. However, concerning the dogmas, they are the things that are considered true by a church and should be strictly followed by all the church members. According to Catholicism, a dogma must be divinely revealed and proposed by the church. Doctrines do not require strict adherence by the church members meaning that they vary in importance.
A doctrine cannot be a dogma. Death penalty in the current society is considered as a thorny issue. For example, most of the catholic leaders have called for its abolition and defended the capital punishment. The teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church advocates the new shift in emphasis, but still upholds traditional moral teaching (Smith, William Frank 87). The law of the church has transformed into a silent affair since due to a change in various emergent political systems. For instance, most of the charges in the mosaic laws were death. The bible or other biblical references were used to deliberate on pertinent issues within the society. Dogma lacks official recognition, but doctrines were religiously recognized and accepted within the society.
According to the pope and the catechism, the state has the right to exact a death penalty, but the right considerations should be made. He further argues that before a capital punishment is given, the following principles should be considered. First, the intention of the one committing the act should be good, the act itself must be good, and the circumstances must be appropriate. The pope further argues that there should be a proportion between taking the life of a criminal and benefit the action gives to the common good. Certain laws that do not take account of factors such as mental age and repentance are unjust. The catechism of the catholic states that after determination of guilt and responsibility of a criminal, death penalty can be applied considered it is the only possible way of defending human lives (Smith, William Frank 87).
The intention of carrying out a punishment depends on the motive of the state. The decision made by a state should be motivated by requirements of common good but not the motives of vengeance. The circumstances that are related to a particular capital case depict the judgment that is given. In most of the developed countries, they tend to get rid of criminals who pose a threat to society. The nature of the society is also related to the concrete conditions of the common good. The pope argues that it would be contrary to the church teaching to say that capital punishment is immoral. However, its use in the modern society is rare. The leaders concerned in making such judgments in the political society should make them in the individual cases. The principles taught by the church should be applied in the cases because taking a human life is a grave matter if done unjustly.
Capital punishment has been practiced in most societies. Currently, more than fifty countries impose the death penalty for various crimes. Example; in the 18th century, the government of the UK increased the list of crimes that are punishable by death. They included crimes like sending threatening letters, stealing, and cutting down trees. Murder was the only crime for which death penalty could be applied. This took place until 1965 after passing the Murder Act, which abolished the death penalty. Death penalty was replaced by a sentence of life imprisonment that was mandatory. Evidently, such a doctrine can never become a dogma (Sider, Ronald 55).
Looking at the death penalty as a doctrinal matter, the U.S bishops do not agree with it. When looking at it in a political angle, the bishops fail to advocate the issue as a core part of their teaching. In the U.S, the month of October is considered a ‘respect for life’ month as per the catholic parishes around the country. The issue of the death penalty was experienced even in the presidential politics of America. Texas Rick Perry brought up a question about the number of people who had been executed during that reign. This is because over 230people had been sentenced to a death penalty.
Sider, Ronald J.. The early church on killing a comprehensive sourcebook on war, abortion, and capital punishment. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2012. Print.
Smith, William Frank. Exploring pathways to God: Christian theology, doctrines, dogmas, faith. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2013. Print.