Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Legal defense of murderers

1247. A man is charged with murder, and is being defended by a Catholic lawyer.

Such is the setting you give for your questions. And in those questions you ask concerning the moral obligations of the lawyer. But there is no need to suppose that the lawyer is a Catholic, unless you believe that a Catholic is expected to be faithful to natural moral obligations more than others. And before I go on, I must point out one other thing. We must divide legal processes into civil causes, and criminal causes. The moral obligations of a lawyer will differ according to the nature of the cause in question. In a civil cause, where two people are engaged in litigation over their supposed rights, a lawyer cannot in conscience defend the case of one whose claim he knows to be quite unjust. If "A" wants to sue "B" for $1,000, and the lawyer consulted knows that "A" has no case in any just sense of the word, the lawyer may not undertake "A's" case. If he wins the case he is unjustly cooperating in the injury done to "B." If he loses, he unjustly robs "A" of all the useless expenses his advice has entailed. But the case you give is not a "civil," but a "criminal" cause. It is not one man in litigation against another. It is the State against one charged with crime. And here the position, from the lawyer's point of view, is very different. Now for your suppositions.

1248. Supposing the man tells the lawyer that he is guilty, yet asks him to defend him and try to secure his acquittal. Is the lawyer justified in going on with the case and saying nothing?

Yes. Whatever the criminal may plead in court, his advocate may plead. For it is really the criminal pleading through his advocate. And every criminal, even knowing himself guilty, may plead "not guilty" for purposes of law. The burden of proving guilt is on the State; and the State wants to have that responsibility, in order that strict justice may be secure; that there may be no miscarriage of justice; and that no one may suffer from excessive severity at its hands. So much so, that the State will often assign the task of defense to a lawyer, if the criminal is unable to provide one for himself. Though the lawyer in question, even as the criminal, knows that his client is guilty, the verdict must be given by the judge and jury. And not only is the lawyer to avoid pronouncing a verdict; he is not even present as a witness. He is there on behalf of the accused, to force the court and witnesses to prove their case; and to show, if possible, that they have failed to do so.In his defense of his client, of course, the lawyer is morally forbidden to use any but honest and just means. He may not employ trickery, fraud, false witnesses or documents, or lies of any kind. You may say that he knows his client to be guilty, yet keeps quiet about it. That is not a lie. A lie is to say what is not true. Not to say what is true is quite a different thing. And whilst the lawyer may not say what is not true, he may keep silent about what is true on the particular point of his client's guilt, even as the accused himself is allowed to keep quiet about it and plead "not guilty." Nor is such silence a frustration of justice. It is to safeguard the administration of justice by the State.

1249. If the client says nothing, but the lawyer has strong evidence of his guilt from other sources, can the lawyer go on with the case, and say nothing?

Yes. As I have said, whatever it is lawful for his client to plead, he may plead. And he is there for the defense of his client; not as a witness against him. Of course those from whom the lawyer got evidence of the man's guilt might be called as witnesses. The lawyer's duty then would be to abstract from his own opinion, and do his best to show, if possible, that the evidence given by such witnesses does not amount to strict proof.

1250. If, instead of saying nothing, the client protests his innocence all along, and will not depart from it, yet the lawyer has strong evidence of his guilt from other sources, may that lawyer go on with the case?

The same answer still applies. He is morally free to do so. Remember that we are dealing with criminal causes here, and not with civil causes. And keep in mind the principle that what is lawful to the defendant is lawful to his advocate. The accused man has a perfect right to defend himself with the help of the legal knowledge possessed by the lawyer he employs. And the lawyer is not present as judge or witness; nor, for that matter, in any personal or private capacity. He is there to provide the legal knowledge required by his client, a knowledge to which the accused has a perfect right in his efforts to force the law to prove its case before it proceeds to a conviction.



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