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For anyone that was curious, I am against the Death Penalty. It is not only an ineffective deterrent, it is not only an expensive process, it is also an immoral practice.
As a Catholic, I am always annoyed by non-Catholics trying to obfuscate the church’s position, which is quite clear. There are even some Republican Catholics who try to ignore the church’s clear position on the matter.
What I find funny, is that Protestant Christians are totally gung-ho about war, the death penalty, and endorse many Conservative policies, which are clearly in opposition to a dignified life. They forget that they claim to be pro-life, yet they are more or less anti-abortion, not pro-life.
On the blog NewsBusters.org, the author blasts a CNN report by Roland Martin during which he presses a Republican Catholic commentator to acknowledge that the death penalty and abortion are both life issues. The blog’s author, Matthew Balan, writes, “He teamed up with the liberal Catholic priest to incorrectly give the impression that the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty rises to the same level as its opposition to abortion.” What he does not realize, as a non-Catholic, is that Roland Martin is absolutely correct: the Death Penalty and abortion are on equal footing, in terms of being unacceptable.
Balan goes on to cite the Catholic Churches Catechism in a lame attempt to justify the use of abortion: “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.” While the Catechism does say this, he neglects to include the whole passage, which is as follows:
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 with 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 definitively 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 non-existent.”
Notice the last phrase “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
What this blogger also fails to understand, is that the Catholic church was a huge supporter of the UN’s resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty across the globe. A Vatican spokesman, Father Lombardi, following the passage of the December 2008 resolution, said, “It shows that despite the persistence of so much violence in the world, there is a growing awareness in the human family of the value of life, of the dignity of every person and of the concept of a nonvindictive punishment”. The Vatican also condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein: “Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI’s top prelate for justice issues and a former Vatican envoy to the United Nations, said that Saddam’s execution would punish ‘a crime with another crime’ and expressed hope that the sentence would not be carried out.”
Pope John Paul II forgives the man who shot him in an assassination attempt
Pope John Paul II was a fervent opponent of the death penalty. In 1999, JP2 proclaimed, “Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” Not only did he remind us that Christ, too, was given the death penalty, but that he offered hope to the criminals who were also being crucified: “I tell you with certainty, today you will be with me in Paradise.” The Pope was clear in his opposition to capital punishment. He clarified that, it being the ultimate form of punishment, it denied the convicted the opportunity of redemption and reform. “We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing.” He also put the death penalty on par with abortion, as they both are symbolic of “a culture of death.” Most Protestant Christians base their support of the death penalty in the Old Testament: however, as Pope John Paul wrote, “in the Old Testament this sense of the value of life… does not yet reach the refinement found in the Sermon on the Mount. This is apparent in some aspects of the current penal legislation, which provided for severe forms of corporal punishment and even the death penalty. But the overall message, which the New Testament will bring to perfection, is a forceful appeal for respect for the inviolability of physical life and the integrity of the person.” Capital punishment, in short, is not in keeping with any biblical teachings about the sanctity of life, despite weak attempts by Protestants to justify the death penalty.
While Pope Benedict has not been as forthright as his predecessor, he has still been clear on opposing the death penalty. Where he has not been as vocal as his predecessor, there are Cardinals and Bishops across the globe who have been outspoken on the matter. For instance, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that the death penalty was “contrary to the great Christian values which sustain the universal rights of man,” and added that he looked forward to the day when the practice was “definitively eliminated.” Pope Benedict has argued, however, that it is not impossible for the death penalty to be justified, but noted that according to the Church’s criteria it is “practically impossible” in today’s modern society. He congratulated the President of the Phillipines for ending the death penalty; he did the same for Bill Richardson, New Mexico Governor, who recently ended the death penalty in his state.
In the final analysis, the death penalty is an unacceptable for of punishment. It stains our collective sense of justice and it makes us all guilty of murder. Though people who commit murder are deserving of harsh sentences, it is morally unacceptable, and illogical, to assume that reciprocating murder is justice. It is not.
First and foremost, I am pro-life. Now, I know a lot of you probably think, “Oh, he’s one of these Ultra-right wing Christians who hate women.”
I am actually a fairly liberal guy who proudly voted for Hillary Clinton in the California primary. I love women. I’m married to one. But I also love life.
Where I differ from right-wing extremists, is the fact that I am actually pro-life. That means I am against abortion, but I am also against the death penalty, I am against needless war, I am for a healthy and clean environment, I am for raising the minimum wage, I am for Universal Health Care, and I am for equal quality education across our country. The economic and social justice that the Democratic party fights for actually reduces the number of abortions across the country. The right-wingers don’t support any of these pro-life measures. See, the right-wingers are simply anti-abortion. They are not pro-life.
Which brings me to my next point: we need to forget about Roe v. Wade. That single court ruling has had the most imapct upon our society since Brown v. Board of Education. I think most people, whether “pro-life” or “pro-choice” (both ridiculous and stupid labels that mean nothing) can agree that nobody likes abortion. Is that some common ground we can all stand upon? I think it is.
From there, I argue that we should, as a nation, have better Sex Education in our schools. As an educator, I can see how pervasive sexuality is, even at the junior high level. That may be where we need to begin. Education is the best tool we have, so we ought to use it to fight unneccessary abortions from unwanted pregnancies. That means teaching our kids how to use contraceptives effectively. It also means emphasizing abstinence (I am by no means advocating abstinence only education). Prevention is crucial.
But schools can only do so much. Parents need to better educate their children in the home about sexuality. They need to be more firm and direct with their children with rules and boundaries. I see it all the time: parents allow their children to do whatever they want, whenever they want, at all hours of the day. This is certainly not true in all cases, but I do see this as the norm. We would have fewer Jamie Lynn Spears’ and Bristol Palins running around the country if parents took on the responsibility of parenthood.
I am Catholic. Abortion is an important issue for Catholics, as it is for many Protestants. I find myself, at times, arguing with Christians about whether or not to vote for a Democrat because the party supports abortion. My view is, an educated voter needs to weigh all the issues, not just a single issue that provokes an emotional response, and vote for the candidate that best represents the common interest. Republican candidates know that every election cycle there will be a core group of voters that simply ignores all the issues and votes primarily on the abortion issue. There are many good, honest, hardworking people who are perpetually in hard times who consistently vote for Republicans, even though it is not in their economic best interest. The Republican candidate, once elected, will go back to Washington and simply shelve the abortion issue until the next election, and then will proceed to pursue their actual agenda, which is to uphold the status quo the elites.
I think it is interesting, as I wrote earlier, to mention that abortion rates actually go down when we have Democratic administrations, as opposed to the increase in abortion rates under Republican administrations. Take, for example, according to the recent Guttmacher study, the fact that abortion rates went down more dramatically under President Clinton, going from 1.61 million abortions in 1990 to 1.31 abortions in 2000. Between 1992 and 1996, there was a 3.4% decline in abortion rates per year; between 1996 and 2000 there was a decline of 1.2% per year. Under President Bush, the number of abortions performed went from 1.31 million (in 2000) to 1.2 million (in 2005, the most recent data). That is a decline of only 0.9% per year. Why is that? It is because people who are in hard times, who have an unexpected pregnancy, are more likely to consider having an abortion than they are when they are in economic good times.
The findings of a study released in October 2007 also point to the need to abandon the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. The study, conducted by the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York , found that abortion rates tend to be the same in countries where abortion is legal and where abortion is illegal. Virtually the same! The legality of abortion makes no difference! What is different, however, is the safety of abortions being performed and the mortality of the woman having the abortion. The study found that the women in countries where abortion was outlawed were drinking turpentine, bleach or tea made with livestock manure; inserting herbal preparations into the vagina or cervix; placing foreign bodies, such as a stick, coat hanger or chicken bone, into the uterus; or jumping from the top of stairs or a roof. The study found that there “Worldwide, an estimated five million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications, such as hemorrhage and sepsis… [and] Complications due to unsafe abortion procedures account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, or 67,000 per year.” How is this pro-life? It is not.
Again, I turn back to the need for better sex education, both in the schools and at home, with a particular emphasis on abstinence. That said, contraceptive use also needs to be taught because not every individual is going to abide by the fact that abstinence is the only 100% way to avoid unwanted pregnancies or STD’s (though STD’s are an entirely different conversation for another day). Sex Ed cannot be a one size fits all program that abides only to religious considerations (abstinence only); instead, this needs to be a secular program that promotes good health for individuals as well as smart family planning for future generations. Again, and this is crucial, prevention is the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and abortions that result thereof.
And, finally, I would like to also express my deep belief that America can and will overcome this issue. There is common ground between both sides of the issue. If both sides can come together and work to create social and economic conditions that have been proven to reduce the number of abortions, then we can go a long way to reaching that goal of zero abortions (as optimistic that number may be). For this to work, we also need to support mothers who do opt to keep their child, rather than undergo an abortion. We also need to support our adoption agencies and cut a lot of the red tape that prevent or slow down the adoption process. In addition to that, we should support those families that decide to adopt children, as they are performing an admirable and honorable service to the children of our nation. As this election winds down, I hope that people start to consider an array of issues before making their decisions. If they do that, I am confident Barack Obama will be the man they elect to be the next President of the United States of America.