us/weekly Mass readings
on the death penalty
on poverty & greed
on opportunity & discrimination
on energy & environment
on family & health
on manipulating christianity
for political gain
Sr. Helen Prejean (middle) and
cast from her play "Dead Man Walking"--Cape Cod Community
College, 5 Mar 07
is Love--papal encyclical
hope we are saved--NEW papal encyclical
(catholic social justice)
a free window sticker
Catholic Democrat view
On The Death Penalty
cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing....This cycle of violence
diminishes all of us—especially our children."
—Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework
for Action published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
believe that abolition of the death penalty is most consonant with
the example of Jesus."
—Capital Punishment. Published by the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops, 1980
August 6, birthday of the electric chair and the atomic bomb
Emmanuel Charles McCarthy)
regarding Bush policy on the death penalty:
Mr. Bush oversaw the execution of 152 people as governor of Texas,
with only a single clemency action, making him the most accomplished
executioner of any governor in U.S. history.
Opposed measures to punish minors or people with I.Q.’s
under 65 with life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.
Successfully advocated new law accelerating the appeals process,
termed the "speed up the juice law" by legislators.
He advocated strict deadlines for the appeals process, which if
missed terminated any further sentence review.
Vetoed legislation that would have helped local governments establish
public defender systems independent of a patronage system serving
local judges, and eliminated funding for legal resource centers
measures to open Texas Paroles Board proceedings to public scrutiny,
allowing perpetuation of a system in which members anonymously
sent in their votes without any collective discussion of individual
One famous case in which Mr. Bush refused to intervene (and ridiculed
the defendant) was that of a man whose defense lawyer had slept
through much of the trial, and had a history of doing so in at
least one previous case that resulted in execution. The Texas
Court of Appeals declined to reverse the death sentence, declaring
that the Texas Constitution didn’t say anything about defense
attorneys having to be awake during trial. A federal judge overturned
the sentence, and then the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the State’s
appeal, ultimately saving the man’s life.
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft sought frequently to overturn
the views of local prosecutors in federal murder cases with a
zeal for seeking the death penalty.
The Administration has overturned regulations reversing a presumption
against the use of the federal death penalty in 12 non-death penalty
states. Despite having trumpeted a philosophy of "states'
rights," the Bush Administration has sought to force use
of the death penalty on states that have foresworn it.
Democratic Party Platform courageously evolved
in 2004 to the Catholic position on the death penalty, for the
first time since 1988.
Virtually every careful scholar of the death penalty has concluded
that it’s only purpose is one of societal vengeance.
All other stated aims have succumbed to a preponderance of contrary
It costs at least three times as much to
prosecute a death penalty case as it does to impose life imprisonment
The death penalty does not demonstrably deter
violent crime (and may even encourage it, since murder rates
are significantly higher in death penalty states)
death penalty risks exacting an irreversible penalty
on innocent people (more than 100 death row inmates
have been exonerated since the Supreme Court reinstated the
death penalty in 1976).
Ronald Reagan enjoyed saying, "Government is not
the solution, it's the problem." And yet when it comes to
the most profound power of the state, namely that to kill its
own citizens, many people (including Mr. Bush) set aside their
concerns about misuse of government power and subscribe to a child-like
willingness to believe that every tiny cash-strapped municipality
across the country is capable of meting out a high standard of
justice in sentencing their own citizens to death.
Statements by the Pope and the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops have been unequivocal in their opposition to
the death penalty. The Pope wrote in a 1995 encyclical (Evangelium
Vitae), "Punishment must be carefully evaluated and
decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the
offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words,
when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today,
however, as a result of steady improvement in the organization
of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically
nonexistent." This is precisely the view expounded by the
Democratic Party Platform.
An editorial that appeared in February 2002 in the National Catholic
Register cited remarks by Supreme Court Justice Antonin
Scalia, betraying the hypocrisy that some conservative
Catholics have demonstrated regarding their conflicting views
on abortion and the death penalty. “He said that, since
the Pope's teaching on capital punishment in Evangelium Vitae
did not come ex cathedra, i.e., with formal infallibility,
he is not obligated as a Catholic to accept it, only to give it
"serious consideration.” …It was an example of
a powerful man persuading a crowd of people that the Church is
wrong - and obscuring the obligations of Catholics in the process.
(He added) "I have given [Evangelium Vitae] careful
and thoughtful consideration and rejected it," Scalia said.
"I do not find the death penalty immoral."
Mr. Bush betrays his fundamental disloyalty to Christ in his willingness
not only to allow executions, but seemingly to revel in his power
to implement them. His ridiculing of Karla Faye Tucker,
a born-again Christian, on the eve of her execution received wide
attention. In his second debate with Vice-President Al Gore, Gov.
Bush proudly, almost gleefully touted the planned execution of
two white men for the dragging death of James Byrd.