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Revision of death-penalty language in catechism is welcome change

Letter to the Editor

09/07/2018 | Comments

As a cradle Catholic and a Republican, I have been a relatively lone voice in my party calling for the abolition of the death penalty.  Although I have supported the Church’s erstwhile teaching — that it can be justified in certain rare cases — I have always felt it should be less subject to the vagaries of human agency, which ultimately undergirds our criminal justice system. 

Therefore I welcome Pope Francis’ revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to unambiguously assert that the death penalty is inadmissible in all circumstances (“A Step Further, Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’,” Aug 17 issue of the Herald).

I would, however, add a dimension that is often overlooked in arguments against the death penalty. To wit, the dignity of those who by their approbation play a tangential role in the death penalty, is degraded — as is their humanity. Indeed, the death penalty creates a morally corrosive influence on our culture which, to the extent we support it, or stand silently by, has the subtle, inadvertent effect of blunting our spiritual development. 

Every day we’re reminded that evil exists, that it’s endemic to our fallen human nature, and so it’s understandable that many people strongly feel that those who commit capital crimes merit the ultimate punishment. But those who sincerely believe in the Catholic faith must ask themselves whether the death penalty is, in truth, the so-called ‘ultimate punishment.’ Wouldn’t that be eternal damnation?  And, isn’t that the purview of God, not man?

                Philip Mella

                Woodland Park

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