Death penalty opponents need to push for life without parole

I really wish Tony Magliano would quit putting words in God’s mouth (CR, April 14). His article titled “The death penalty is not God’s penalty” ignores Acts 5:1-10, where Ananias and his wife Sapphira were put to death by the Holy Spirit for trying to perpetrate a skimming fraud on the Holy Spirit and the church. A skimming fraud is where the fraudster underreports revenue and pockets the difference. Furthermore, the importance of Christ’s death was that he was innocent. As St. Paul stated in Acts 13:28, “For even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him put to death.” An eyewitness to Christ’s execution said “And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” (Luke 23:41) If the criminals did not merit a horrible death, then what is the standard to discern the importance of Christ’s innocence? Speaking as a person who had a friend that was murdered, it is the innocence of the victim that offends the moral order. As defined in section 1836 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due.”

Death penalty opponents have duties and obligations implicit in section 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The conditional, “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor …” requires honesty and commitment to justice. If there is no commitment to follow through in administering justice for innocent victims of murder, section 2267’s condition is not met. I do not perceive a commitment to justice based on the disproportionate treatment of the death penalty in the Catholic News Service compared to the ignoring of the victims of homicide and the lip service to the astronomical number of abortions. Do the math. Using 2007 as an example, there were 1.2 million abortions, 18,361 homicides and 42 executions in the United States. How can the church’s leadership inspire her flock to oppose abortion, when their silence is deafening in view of 18,000 adult and children victims of homicide? Does Catholic citizens’ behavior reflect Christ’s Gospel or faith in their own comfort?

I testified at my murdered friend’s trial. After conviction, one of the procedures is communicating the crime’s impact to the jury. I waited one day past the prosecutor’s deadline before I sent her my feelings on the subject. I wrote to the prosecutor that “I believe that any murdered citizen should receive the respect conferred by imposing a maximum sentence on the murderer.” I also wrote, “… life imprisonment without parole is the toughest sentence that Maryland is willing to impose on a First Degree murderer …” Life imprisonment without parole means death by old age while in prison. If death penalty opponents are sincere, they have to be committed to justice and the price it demands of them.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.