Beliefs & Attitudes to Crime and Prejudice

Beliefs & Attitudes to Crime and Prejudice

Beliefs and Sources of Authority

The Bible

bibleThe Bible’s New Testament is the main source of Roman Catholic beliefs. This includes the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament is especially important to Catholics because the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus’ life. The Gospels were all written after Jesus’ death.

The Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed is mainly based on the New Testament and it sets out the main beliefs of Roman Catholics. It is expressed in the Mass of the Roman Rite which is recited during Catholic Church services:

‘I believe in God,

the Father almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth,

and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died and was buried;

he descended into hell;

on the third day he rose again from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;

from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and life everlasting. Amen’

Catholics believe that Saint Peter was the successor of Jesus and that the Popes are the successors of Peter.


Crime and Punishment

The death penalty

stakeHistorically, Catholics believed that the death penalty was justified. Many heretics, those that did not accept the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, were burnt at the stake during the Middle Ages.

In modern times, the death penalty is a divisive issue for Catholics. Some are opposed to it on ethical grounds while others believe it can be justified when a particularly heinous crime has been committed.

Although one of the Ten Commandments says ‘Thou shalt not kill’, some Christians interpret this as a law against murder rather than a prohibition of all killing.


Prejudice and Discrimination

discriminationJesus Christ taught that prejudice and discrimination were wrong and went out of his way to associate with social outcasts such as prostitutes and lepers. Modern Catholics believe that racial discrimination and prejudice are wrong.

However, Catholics do discriminate against women. They are not allowed to be priests or bishops. They also discriminate against homosexuals. The Church forbids same sex marriage and considers all homosexual activity to be unacceptable.