Is that what the death penalty campaign is about?

Is that what the death penalty campaign is about?

I had an interesting thought just now. We know that the US bishops conference, the USCCB, has launched a major campaign against the death penalty. We know that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is leading the charge on that. We also know that Cardinal McCarrick was leading a bishops’ task force last year on the problem of Catholic politicians who dissent from Church teaching and that he was opposed to efforts by some bishops to say that pro-abortion pols cannot receive Communion.

How much do you want to bet that over the next year or two Catholic opposition to capital punishment becomes the major issue and that bishops of a certain bent will use it to deny Communion to anti-abortion, pro-death penalty Catholic Republicans before the next election cycle? After all, they’ll say, we have to hold everyone to the same standard.

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42 comments
  • My thoughts exactly and it will dovetail so nicely with Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. Another benefit is that this may be an additional source of funding from liberals who may give- the dioceses are declaring bankruptcy right and left.  Sadly, the message seems to be that we have acquiesced on abortion and stem cells but now we have a winning issue.

  • I’ve got to hand it to you, Dom, that sounds a lot like McCarrick, alias, “the fixer”.  One seamless garment fits all, and distinctions of guilt vs innocence be hanged.  It’s an asymmetric comparison of “victims”, on the one hand an innocent unborn baby, and on the other a free agent who chose to take a human life, but that won’t stop the argument from being made.

    Millions of innocent infants butchered in their wombs, but the REAL issue is a few thousand murderers on death row.  Is it any wonder why so many of us find it increasingly difficult to take the spiritual integrity of American bishops seriously?  Is it any surprise that, more and more, Catholics find them simply irrelevant to the matter of their salvation? 

    I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it happens exactly as you say.

  • Great! Now, guys, grab your croziers and scoot down to Florida and stop the execution of Theresa Schiavo. Get a good one right out of the gate. What’s that you say? Pastorally defering to the local Ordinary? No time? Holy Week and all? Sure, sure. Polishing that thurible takes a lot of time. ..

    What a crock of crap. I guess their polls suggest this is a good time to run with this. Other than the Burkes, Sheridans, Chaputs an Bruskewiczs, I wouldn’t trade a bucket of snot for the rest of the lot. One of their own lambs is dying and they stand idly by wringing their hands.

  • The quickest way to disarm them would be to ascend to the pope’s teaching on the death penalty, reiterating that the CCC does not totally condemn the practice.  Sure, maybe we’ll never have to use the death penalty again, but would it be wise to make it illegal?  I don’t think so.

     

  • The bishops keep giving us reason to mistrust them collectively.  I know there are courageous individual bishops, but too many of them are cowards or worse, subverters of the faith.  They have followed Cardinal Bernardin’s false “seamless garment” formula to the benefit of providing top cover to the likes of Kennedy, Kerry, Giuliani, etc who all claim to be “personally opposed to abortion but…” 

    Here is some true teaching from St Thomas Aquinas on capital punishment:

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    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/306402.htm

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  • “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and 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.”

    So how are the means in the US not “sufficient”?

    I’m with the Cardinal on this one.

  • The problem, tkozal, is their timing.  An innocent woman is being executed.  They have not come out with a document on her behalf.  But as she dies, they come out with a document on behalf of those who are guilty.

    There is also the matter of “sufficient” means to protect the prison population.  Is our system adequate to protect those on the inside which include guards, and staff, and other prisoners who may even be guilty of horrible offenses, but who should not have their life threatened by fellow prisoners who have no right to carry out any sort of “sentence.”

  • Carrie,

    I agree that, using JPII’s criteria, probably the only time the death penalty would be okay is when a prisoner has killed in prison.  But even then, is solitary confinement an option? 

    I remember my dad, who was a wonderful pro-life activist, saying that if Timothy McVeigh didn’t deserve the death penalty then no one did.  I don’t know if I had the nerve to say it to Dad or not, but I disagreed.  Timothy McVeigh’s crime, as horrendous as it was, was a cowardly act.  He was responsible for many deaths but society could have been protected by him being in jail.  If he died in prison the rest of his life, I would have been okay with that.

    Still, I agree that the bishops’ timing on this is sinful. 

  • The world does not stop for Terry Schiavo, no matter how badly some would like it too.

  • That is about the coldest, most heartless thing I think I’ve read on this blog. Why don’t you just say that the world doesn’t stop for 9/11 victims or Holocaust victims? Or is it because it’s a lot of people killed and not just one that those are worse.

    If there’s one lesson of Good Friday it’s that Christ dies on the Cross for each individual. The way you put it, we may as well as put her out with the trash.

    This from the guy who thinks that putting mass murderers to death goes too far. Wow.

  • I don’t understand why the bishops are focusing on one issue. They don’t have families. They have staff. They don’t have to shop for their food, cook it, clean it up……ok, that’s my life and I can’t understand what they’re doing with their time. They have the internet, printers, scanners, tv, etc, things not available to St. Paul or Christ himself.
    Why don’t they cover the whole gamet of immoral activities Jesus spoke about in the Gospels?
    Why one issue?
    And tk, don’t you know the entire heavens are stopping because an innocent is being starved to death? Look with the eyes of faith.

  • Tkozal:  The line you cite from the CCC, itself reflecting Evangelium Vitae, does not mention another aspect of the Catholic Church’s historic support of the death penalty, and that is retributive justice, ie punishing the evil doer, not merely preventing him from harming others or protecting the common good.  The Church has never taught that there’s any intrinsic evil involved in captial punishment.  God positively *commanded* it of Israel many times.

    In a turn of phrase that would provoke a fit of apoplexy in the halls of the USCCB, the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566) taught that executions are acts of “paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment.”  “Thou shalt not murder,” is often improperly translated as “kill” instead of “murder” as denoted in the Hebrew.  And, not only do the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas (see the good link to newadvent above) and Augustine agree but both also find that such punishment actually reflects charity and mercy by preventing the evil doer from sinning further.

    The Cardinal’s timing is horrendous, but the whole post-Bernardin interpretation of the tradition is also off.  Forgive my intemperance, but it seems Terri Schiavo would have found a zealous and compassionate advocate in Cardinal McCarrick had she had brutally killed someone.

  • http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/03/24/20_year_fugitive_returned_to_state/

    Here’s an excellent reason why we need the death penalty. This murderer killed two men in cold blood.  Former Governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis commuted one life sentence (b/c we in MA are too compassionate to have the death penalty) and was trying to commute the second life sentence.  He need not have bothered b/c this murderer escaped from jail and has been living in Chicago for 20 years celebrated as a poet and yep, you guessed it peace activist.

  • tkozal,

    I have to say, I don’t understand what your last post even means.  It sounds as though you’re gloating, or rejoicing in the Schindlers’ loss. 

  • Mary,

    Actually, thanks to Dukakis, the guy didn’t have to escape from jail. He was out on furlough, a la Willie Horton, and just never came back. Gee, a double-murderer who is untrustworthy. Who would have guessed?

  • Well, I wonder what the bishops would say if every time they brought this up, someone brought up Terry Shiavo and asked why the discrepancy?  I really can’t imagine what the answer would be, but maybe tkozal could explain it.

  • Eliminating the death penalty may well be the way back out of the death-culture “judicial occupation” looking-glass we’re in.  I’m struck by the similarities between the “death watch” we keep for the condemned prisoners and the one we are keeping for Terri. In 2000, every time a Texas inmate’s number was up, we would follow the progress of last-minute appeals through the six levels of the American court system, and at the end there would be a live statement by Governor Bush announcing his legal decision.  Here we have another state, another Gov. Bush, but the same pattern. 

    The death penalty, used about 65 times a year, would be a small thing to give up in order to end the 1,300,000 abortions per year.  The wages of the 1,300,000 new workers could easily pay for 65 life sentences, if not life sentences for all 15,000 murderers per year. 

    Even if we were executing 15,000 murderers per year at no cultural cost, then if death were truly the just and necessary punishment for murder, we would still be failing to execute the 1,300,000+ murderers of their own babies (and those who commit legal euthanasia, cannibalistic fratricide a/k/a therapeutic cloning, etc.)  How many people’s actions are predicated on access to legal abortion?  In our country, murder is simply too common a sin for the death penalty to be applied.  We are Rwanda.

    Streamlining the appeals process for death penalty cases has corrupted our judicial system into the farce that we see manifested in the Schiavo case.  There is effectively no judicial review available for the original “finding of fact”, no matter how asinine and irrational that finding may have been.  The only way an innocent person’s life can be saved on appeal is if the judge made a technical error in jurisprudence; people can get off for technicalities but not because they’re innocent, unless the trial judge changes his mind.  This streamlining was done to cut down the number of possible appeals that could be made on behalf of a death row inmate; the number of technical issues that can be raised against a criminal verdict is great, but it is limited, while re-arguing the facts can go on forever.  The people who voted and lobbied for the streamling did so because their desire to sate their anger outweighed their desire to keep a presumption in favor of preserving the life of the innocent.  They could have kept the just appeals and eliminated the technicalities, but that would have been an unpopular “attack on Constitutional rights”, and also an attack on the entrenched Imperial Judiciary that has created some absurd new “rights” out of thin air. 

    This Judiciary, which can’t tell the difference between man and woman, procreation and sodomy, marriage and fornication, baby and uterus, human and vegetable, has demonstrated no competence to determine who lives and who dies.

    This week, we note how absurd it is that some people care more about 17-year-old murderers than innocent women.  Last week, the absurdity didn’t exist, because the Supreme Court had not yet ruled juvenile executions unconstitutional.  The death penalty was re-legalized only one intervening Congressional election after Roe (the post-Watergate election), in part because the absurdity of a Constitution which allowed the murder of babies but not murderous adults was provoking too much of a backlash.  If we can once again provoke that backlash by sparing the lives of 65 murderers a year, I’m all for it.

  • I’m against the death penalty, however, abortion in no way equal capital punishment.  Abortion is evil.  Capital punishment is not evil, but unnecessary.

    I used to be for capital punishment.  The reason why I changed my mind was because of the Holy Father.  He forgave the man who tried to kill him and he waould never want him to be executed if he had killed him.  I feel the same way.

  • I think the Bishops should be very poor like the Apostles so that they can be more like Our Lord.  Where do they get their money from?  I want to help them be more like the poor they preach so much about.

  • Another example of those who believe all theology of the Holy Roman Church commenced in 1968

  • Are you ready to defend your death penalty stance at the throne of God?

    Many people compare the unborn baby and the murderer and say one deserves to die and
    the other does not. They add, “We protect the unborn, but not the murderer.”
    It is an incorrect comparison. The unborn is a victim, the murderer is a perpetrator.  Therefore, the murderer
    should be compared to the abortionist and not the aborted.

    Both abortionist and murderer commit the same offense, rejecting God and taking his
    power of life and death into their hands. Yet, God calls us to be people of mercy, hard on crime, but strong on repentance. If you take the murderer and murder him as well,
    have you denied him the chance to repent of his crime? God says his patience is towards
    mercy. This is why he does not strike people dead, whom you and I may feel he
    should. Life in prison says -given right of the State in Evangelium Vitae, although he is strongly convinced its use should be “rare if not practically non-existent.”

  • PS:  Regarding the conversion of the condemned criminal, the movie “Dead Man Walking” is instructive.  While the movie’s overall premise or “message” is clearly against the death penalty, in my view it inadvertently betrayed its own point.  Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is not moved by ANYTHING, does not take responsibility for ANY of his crimes until death is breathing down his neck.  “Dead Man Walking” (quite accidentally) depicts the death penalty as the agent, though the support of Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon), of Poncelet’s moral, and probably spiritual, conversion.  We can’t know for sure but does any viewer of that movie think it likely that Poncelet, with decades more slouching and posturing on his hands, would suddenly come to the same profound realization of his own evil? 

    Please. 

    At least in Tim Robbins telling of the events, the murderer’s moment of expiation and admission of wrongdoing—a powerful climax to a wrenching story—arrived precisely because of the death penalty, which, so the saying goes, has “a way of clearing the mind.”

    St. Therese of Lisieux rejoiced in her belief that the French murderer Pranzini, for whom she’d prayed, had come to Christ on the day of his hanging.  The Little Flower (and big Doctor) did not say she objected to Pranzini’s punishment.  She, like the whole of the Catholic tradition, saw human life as a relative, not absolutely inviolable, good.

    The Fifth Commandment forbids murder, not killing per se.  There’s a sharp Hebrew distinction between killing out of self- or national-defense, and the murder of innocent persons.  Hence, to take a recent example, the way baby Conor Peterson left this world and the way his father Scott will leave this world call for staggeringly different moral assessments. 

  • I read your arguments. Notice I asked at the beginning of my post “Are you ready to defend your death penalty stance at the throne of God?” I cited 2 Samuel 19:1 where David weeps bitterly at the death of his traitorous son. This David has no problems with “killing the messenger” in his culture. Yet, he refused to kill King Saul who sought to kill him and was delivered into his hands. David also declared the death penalty on himself, albeit unwittingly, for his murderous act covering up adultery. He did not receive the just punishment in the mercy of God. However, as the result of his sin, his son died.  (A precursor to Christ?)

    That said, We in the Catholic tradition believe in the unspeakable joys of Heaven but the Unspeakable horror of Hell. Our Lord did everything he could to help people avoid the latter and know the former. Painfully some choose the latter regardless. Many are not murderers.

    Can I, understanding the unspeakable horrors of rejecting God and the joys of embracing him, cut short someone’s opportunity to repent, even if he did the same to another? I could never defend that act personally. Unless as the Pope says such a person was so vicious that he was unable to be restrained. Yet he says such cases are rare if they exist at all.

    In the striking dead arguments proposed by Isabel, God does the striking not me. So many others who may be on a list of those we may feel should be stricken dead, God keeps alive in his mercy and patience. (I would not be surprised to be on a few of those lists in others’ eyes as well, temper that I have.)

    In the St. Terese of Lisieux argument, she had no control over the execution but did have a control over the final resting place. She embodies the statement “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.”  (The criminal rejected the sacraments by the way.)

    Allesandro Serenelli claimed his victim St. Maria Gorretti was responsible for his conversion. He died a holy man after many years in prison.

    Finally, I do not defend abortionists nor murderers. I seek conversion of sinners.

  • Father Carr:  As I said, perhaps you could clarify your post.  You seem to argue that the death penalty is immoral, or at least you seem to deny the millenia of support it has had in the Catholic tradition, in the history of Israel and in the teachings of many saints, doctors of the Church, popes, and Councils.

    Yes, David wept at the death of Absalom (2 Sam 19:1) but I don’t see the connection with our death penalty discussion.  In 1 Sam 24, David explains that he decides not to kill Saul because Saul was both the anointed King of Israel and his own father-in-law, David’s wife Michal being the king’s daughter.

    If memory serves, according to the newspaper account Therese read in the morning, Pranzini also took hold of the chaplain’s arm and fervently kissed all five of the wounds of Chirst on the crucifix held by the chaplain.  The Little Flower took this as God’s wink to her that Pranzini was saved. 

    Also, as I recall, Allesandro Serenelli plead not guilty by reason of insanity.  Fin de siecle Italian judges had no conscience qualms over executing the murderers of children.  If he had been executed, no one can say whether he would have repented, though St. Maria Goretti’s interecession, and gone to heaven anyway.  Divine providence was obviously at work for our edification in Serenelli’s case.  But whether the death penalty, or really, really long prison sentences cause conversion is a red herring.  The Catholic Church has condoned the death penalty for 2000 years. 

    I’m not saying Catholics can blythely “dissent”  from the teaching of Pope John Paul II’s stance; just that it’s a stance based on his prudential judgement about our times and about the penal system.  It’s not infallible teaching in the way condemning abortion is.  He nowhere condemns capital punishment per se. 

    Happy and holy Easter to all.

  • Dear Fr. Carr, a death row inmate will have at least ten years of appeals in which to repent.  And furthermore, God does strike people dead- remember Ananais and Sapphira? Not only was that the New Testament but they were killed for lying about money.  They did not even commit the horrible crime of murder. 

  • OK, you all give good legal arguments for the death penalty. Back to my question, are you willing to defend your position at the throne of God. If you want to say yes, that is between you and God.

    The legal argument is a valid one, but it is also a minimum standard. Using the same argument Cardinal Law claimed to have done everything correctly in regard to John Geoghan, he followed the letter of the law. He got professional opinions. He acted on the advice of his lawyers. But the question is did he act charitably enough to the victims? Remember lawyers were condemned by Jesus in the bible for not being charitable.

    Jesus’ law is summed up in love of God and love of neighbor. It is summed up in charity. Do unto others what you would have others do unto to you. This is a higher standard. This is where I would not use your argument if I was before the throne of God. It is based on the legal standard, and Jesus calls us to live the charitable standard. It is a higher standard.

    I often do what is legal but at times do what is uncharitable. Did I do anything wrong? Legally no, but in my Christian witness yes.

    Indeed, I will be posting soon an apology on my website to Domenic and to Rod Dreher for some uncharitable words on my part, but it was legal to say what I said. I do not feel however I could defend them well before the throne of God.

    Mary, Ten years may be a long time to repent, but what if someone would not repent for forty years, then ten years is too short.

    Thank you both for this interaction. Depending on my schedule, if you respond, I may post again this weekend otherwise I will do so when I have a chance maybe earlier in the week.

  • Dear Fr. Carr,

    I understand your citation of the Golden Rule and understand fully that if I committed the terrible crime of murder I would be sentenced to death. I do not think that is uncharitable but simple justice.  A justice that will keep innocent citizens alive. I will be unable to kill in prison- witness John Geoghan’s demise while in custody or kill jailers, hospital chaplains, nurses, doctors, prison guards or other prisoners.  In the Old Testament there are countless examples of crimes where the death penalty was dictated by God to be carried out by man- for idolatry, blasphemy, incorrible youth, adultery.  Today all these crimes are rampant to the point where we do not even notice- and now for the horrible crime of murder, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice (that is justice and not “charity”) we cannot deliver the death penalty?  I don’t understand that and I also don’t understand how if God does not change, and God’s nature does not change how suddenly in the 20th century the death penalty is wrong.  If a man is given ten years to repent and that is not enough time (?) whose fault is that. If the same man were killed by a bolt of lightening or struck by a car is he being treated unjustly by God because he was not given enough time to repent? I think ten years if generous. In many cases far too generous.  I also disagree that Cardinal Law acted uncharitably. I believe he broke the law and should be in jail. How many witnesses have come forward and said, I spoke to the Cardinal and told him that Fr. X was a pedophile…..  And then Fr. Shanley was given a letter of congratulations for his service?????  That is neither charity nor legality.

    Dear Fr. I hope you have a Happy Easter. I have appreciated your comments so much but vociferously disagree with them.

  • How outrageous, Father, to compare 2000 years of Christian doctrine that has been supported by 265 popes, scores of Doctors and Fathers (not to mention explicitly commanded by God in His word) with what Cardinal Law did in shifting around a child rapist.  I take offense.  If this is charity, I prefer the Pharisees.

    At first, though I disagreed, I gave you credit on the merits of cordial debating.  But you just launched into deep space.  Unbelievable.

  • I’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming (and finally peacefully) to the stance of eliminating the death penalty and I’m a pretty good right winger (heck, I like Pat Buchanan a lot). A culture of life cannot support enforced death at any stage of life and it cannot separate out who is worthy of life and who is not.

    That said, I wouldn’t be at all unhappy to cut down on the amount of money spent on non essentials provided to habitual and/or hard criminals – although the ACLU would be right there (unlike in Florida at the moment).

    Cardinal McCarrick, please finish up one ‘task force’ before you launch another – but I do agree with him on this issue and he also spoke out on the Schiavo situation quite succinctly.

    And Dom, I think you are right on this sort of, but I don’t think Holy Communion will be denied to the supporters of the death penalty since the Magisterium is quite clear that the state has the right to establish the use of the death penalty to protect society – but it does condemn abortion with no ‘but’ about it. The death penalty will become the ‘litmus’ test from the progressives though.

  • ON Good Friday the priest doing the 7 Last Words mentioned Cardinal McCarrick’s death penalty task force and told us that we should all be proud of the stand the bishops were taking. There was a subtle ripple throughout the cathedral. I remember sitting there thinking, heck, I haven’t been proud of ANYTHING the bishops have done in years including this. A number of people left at when the reflections on the Words were done.

    I don’t think anyone will be denied Communion. If Teddy Kenedy and James Moran can have the sacrement there’s no way any bishop can deny it to anyone else.

  • If they are so against the death penalty, why aren’t they down in Florida defending Terri Schiavo.  Why aren’t they laying down their lives for this little sheep as she is slaughtered?

    Aren’t the innocent worthy of their defense?  SILENCE!

  • Patrick,
    I will respond later more comprehensively. However, for now. It looks like I shook your tree a bit. I am accurate about the Cardinal response, it was rooted in advice from lawyers and psychologists. Yet, that is not the issue.

    My role as priest is not to engage in cordial debate, it is to shake your tree and force you to confront questions such as what I ask, so that you may deepen your role in Christ. If you are satisfied with your answers fine. My response is that I could never be satisfied with that stance if I was before the throne of God. It is a legalistic stance, in my opinion, we need to be humbly prophetic. That is literally the problem with the Cardinal’s response. It was not prophetic. He was not indicted because nothing he did was indictable due to lack of intention. Yet, does that mean what he did was correct? NO.

    If we live in a true Catholic community then you too need to be prophetic and shake others’ trees including my own.  We are called to be as prophetic as all the prophets and Jesus himself. We have to be people who call others to wake-up especially those within our own community. Look about you in your work and neighborhood and ask yourself, what can you do to get these people saved. Many, I am sure are spiritually asleep. Your vocation by virtue of your baptism is to wake them up.

    There is a backstory to this if you knew it would have you on your knees in prayer begging for mercy for your neighbors and friends and yourself. Yet, I do not think many people are ready to hear that story. Although it is getting out slowly. The bottom line is that it is calling us to wake people up. You can see some of it in my latest column for Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org) entitled Imagine . . .

    Quick note to Isabel: Terry Shiavo is about us. She dies, we all can die. It is a tragic step in the next level of the culture of death. the unborn have been defeated now the born are going to die. Yet, at one point, God steps in and makes his drastic change. The horrors of the NAZI which, we are repeating, ended with a Germany that was leveled.

    The death penalty, however, is not about defense; it is about mercy. “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.”

  • Fr,

    Not only was Terri Schiavo not dying, she wasn’t even sick! She is a disabled woman who was fed differently than most people.  She has been denied the right to food and water by the means her disability required and has now been condemned to death by starvation. 

    She has been condemned to death by the will of her adulterous husband and a tyranical judge and court system.  The Vatican has called it an act of Capital punishment against a person who has done no wrong.  As Catholics we are obligated by Charity (the Love of God) to defend her.

    After God we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves, not just in any manner, but for the love of God AND in obedience to His law.  If you have no respect for God’s law, (thou shalt not kill), where are you going to get the grace to be merciful?  You have not even fulfilled the first requirement of God’s law which is to Love God!

    In other words, if you don’t love God enough to respect his law, you certainly will not have the grace to love your neighbor.  “If you love Me, you will keep my Commandments.”

    Isabel

     

     

  • No thanks, Father.  You can explain comprehensively later to someone else.  You are merely *reading* the above arguments that contradict you, not grappling with them or assessing them beyond a paternalistic pat on the head.  It’s interesting how self-appointed tree shakers (“I do so to force you to confront questions such as I ask”) doll it up with the patina of “humility” and “prophecy.”  One word for this is arrogance.  Another is clericalism, with all due respect.

    For the record, I support John Paul II’s teaching in EV and in the CCC on the death penalty.  I believe he is a prophet for our times.  If I had to serve on a jury, I’m likely to vote against its implementation.  But I’m also comfortable “before the throne of God” in agreeing that the State has the RIGHT to inflict it.  This is not a legalistic stance, Father, but a moral and spiritual one.

    Over and out.

  • Isabel: Oh yeah, Terry Shiavo is a major fall further down the slippery slope.

    Patrick: I am not self-appointed in my tree shaking, it is the vocation of priest. I disagree on your arrogance and clericalism charge. But as you request let’s call it a big 10-4. Have a Happy Easter.

  • Dear Fr. Carr,

    If the greater good of society is adequately protected the Church would argue for mercy for criminals.  But, if the greater good of society is not being protected or even advocated by those in power isn’t it first necessary that the Church fight for justice?

    You are assuming that the common good is being adequately defended and I am arguing it is not even close and is deteriorating very rapidly.

    I do not believe many of our laws are just regarding innocent human life and those we do have are often disregarded by a tryanical judicial system that is putting society at a greater risk of harm rather than protecting the common good.  If the innocent can not be adequately protected, then the common good doesn’t have a chance.  Where does that leave the Popes argument regarding western culture.

    We may have the technological means to defend the common good but it doesnt seem we have the will anymore.

    This is why the Bishops new campeign seems so bazzaar to me.  They are fighting for mercy for criminals and we can’t even get mercy for innocent citizens.

  • Hi Isabel,
    Actually I am not assuming the common good is adequately defended. You are right it is deteriorating rapidly and will continue to do so.

    Why? Expand your vision. The Old Testament biblical call for the death penalty runs on the assumption that everyone is following the law of God and those who do not have become a threat to those who do.

    We are not living in that situation at all, hence the reason why the common good is deteriorating. If a society does not hold God’s Law as the core of its justice system, its justice will collapse. The core of our justice system is the rule of law and has been since January 1973. More so since they pulled the 10 Commandments out of the courthouse in AL. That rule of law is now putting Terri Shiavo to death.

    It is the lack of the God based law that leads to a collapse of a society and that is where we are going. (That too is in the Old and New Testaments) How do we fix it? We ourselves (we are the church-the laity and clergy throughout the world) must live the gospel found in our Catholic faith radically so that we can be a light to the world that is has lost its way.

    If we instead define our mercy and justice by the rule of law, we contribute to the deterioration. The Law of Christ is written on our hearts and it must be the guiding principle in our decisions. That means we will act at times counter to our culture that defines mercy and justice by man-made law and rejects Gods law completely. Our acts must be rooted in the eternal vision of Christ and the mercy and justice that he has defined.

    This brings me back to the original question. Can you say to Christ that your call for the death penalty is in accord with His mercy and justice? Before you answer, by the way, read the book of Amos.

    Wisdom 6:24-25: “A great number of wise men is the safety of the world, and a prudent king, the stability of his people; so take instruction from my words, to your profit.”

  • Dear Father Carr,

    Please forgive me but I simply do not understand this point of view that remains silent in the face of an innocent person being condemned to death by starvation while telling us we must defend the life of a child rapist and murderer.

    From the Rapid City Journal I read:

    “He hopes no one is using Schiavo for political purposes, and he said he does not question the motives of Schiavo’s husband, who wants her feeding tube removed.

    “It doesn’t do any good to demonize anyone in this case,” he said. “It does no good to condemn this man at all.”
    From the Rapid City Journal, I read:

    Instead, [bishop] Cupich said, he hopes the Schiavo tragedy makes everyone appreciate life. “My hope is that we would all treasure life just a bit more as a result of this tragedy, from the beginning of life to the end of it, and that includes the lives of criminals on death row,” he said.

    When we stand before the Just Judge, I expect He will ask to see the wounds we received as a result of suffering with or in place of our innocent brothers and sisters condemned to death, especially by the silence of our bishops.  This is the work of Jesus in faithful souls and it will bear witness to our love for Him in our neighbor.

    It is estimated that 43,000,000 souls were condemned to death in the abortion holocaust since 1973 in this country.  I wonder if bishop Capich will hear one of their voices come to his defense before the throne of God.  I don’t know, but I sincerely doubt he will have the consolation of ever hearing Terri Schiavo’s.

    If I have not lived in accordance with God’s justice and mercy in every moment I am deeply sorry.  Jesus is worthy of the fruit of all His life and love in my soul. 

    God Bless,

    Isabelle

     

  • I’m awaiting the bishops’ next campaign, “Three Packs a Day for a Decisive Death”. 

  • HI Isabel if you are referring to me being silent, I have not been. As for the Bishop. I can see his motives are for not condemning the husband. Yet, I cannot speak for him outside of that context. Clearly, Church teaching condemns removing a feeding tube in a case such as this. I would have to read his comments in context to get a full understanding of his words. However, I certainly do hope he is not indicating removing a feeding tube is acceptable.

    Finally, may I say how inspired I am by the last line of your post. “If I have not . . . ” How powerful would our Church be if we had more Catholics who lived that statement.

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