I'll admit: I like talk radio. I get annoyed with Rush, and I work so I don't catch him that often. However, the other night I was on my way to dinner with friends when I caught the Sean Hannity Show
. He had on two black ministers whose names I forgot. They were debating the issue of whether or not Mr Williams should get the death penalty.
Generally many of us consider ourselves to lean towards the Republican Party, mostly because the Democrat party has pro-abortion advocacy on it's platform. Myself and my friends and a great deal of the blog community tends to vote as such, though we will take issue with the GOP here and there. But this issue puts us on the other side of the fence and gives us some strange bedfellows, like Hollywood.
See, for Catholics, giving the thumbs up to capital punishment is something we are remiss to do. Our faith doesn't outright say that we cannot use capital punishment, but as John Paul II says in Evangelium Vitae
: The Gospel Of Life execution is only appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society".
Our Catechism tells us2266
The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.
Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.2267
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way
of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
In short, legitimate authority (the state, let's say) has the right to inflict punishment that is proportionate to the crime. Assuming we are positive about their guilt the Church won't exclude the death penalty but only if this is the ONLY possible way of defending safety. However since we have systems in place to keep these people away from society, execution is "practically nonexistent". And lets not leave out the line "without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself".
Because we have systems already in place to keep killers out of society we cannot say with surety that the death penalty is the only means of keeping society safe from killers. We also, as Christians HAVE to take in to consideration and the reality that even killers can have a change of heart. Even the most vile of criminals can be converted.
Does this mean we let them back out into society? No. They have broken trust severely with society and their debt must be paid. But with their life? Without possibility that a day from now, a month from now, even 10 years from now they might have a conversion to the Heart of Christ and repent of their sins? This is justice?
It tends to slide into an emotional issue. I don't agree with the Hollywood bleatings that he had paid his debt already by renouncing his gang life. I don't agree with the Governor or Sean Hannity that the only way to make a safe society is to kill our killers.
Issues on life must be consistent. They must be reasonable. They must be taught. They must be lived. They must be proclaimed. Tonight, at your religious Ed classes instruct the kids. Talk about it at Youth Group. Strike up a conversation with the kids at school. Teach them. Proclaim the Truth.
EntryEvangelium Vitae: The Gospel of LifeGreat Article
There is a lot to talk about on this topic. If you are responsible for Catechesis in your work or if you are one of the teachers, read up on the Church and the Death Penalty. Apply your mind to the text!!!