The Death Penalty / Capital Punishment – Gov. Bill Richardson, the Archbishop of Santa Fe and Pope Benedict XVI

The continued Roman Catholic condemnation of the death penalty is a sham. Note that I am not calling into question the intentions of those who oppose the death penalty. I am particularly referring to the Roman Catholics.

Why?

As I wrote long ago in my post The Local Archdiocese and the Death Penalty the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church allows for the death penalty in certain circumstances.

The continued Roman Catholic condemnation of the death penalty is a sham. Note that I am not calling into question the intentions of those who oppose the death penalty. I am particularly referring to the Roman Catholics.

Why?

As I wrote long ago in my post The Local Archdiocese and the Death Penalty the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church allows for the death penalty in certain circumstances.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2266 states:

Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in case of extreme gravity, the death penalty. For analogous reasons those holding authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the community in their charge.

Thus, if they really oppose it let them start at the top with the Pope, with the Catechism and only then condemn secular governments for allowing for capital punishment.

Recently, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson headed a state delegation to Rome and had a public audience in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Benedict XVI’s along with Michael Sheen the Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Archbishop Michael Sheen introduced the Gov. Bill Richardson to Pope Benedict stating, “Holy Father, this is our Gov. and he just repealed the death penalty.”

Yet, this is an utter falsehood. With Gov. Bill Richardson full support the death penalty is alive and well in New Mexico. Except that rather than being a death penalty for the guilty it is a death penalty for the innocent.

Attempt, if you dare, to imagine Gov. Bill Richardson thought processes:
He supported making cockfighting illegal because he considered a brutal and immoral activity.
He banned the death penalty (for the guilty) because he considered a brutal and immoral activity.
Yet, he openly and proudly supports the brutal and painful murder of beautiful, healthy, innocent and defenseless human babies.

Thus, he opposes humane and painless capital punishment for the guilty who made conscience adult decisions to carry out actions for which they know the consequences but supports the brutal and painful dismemberment of innocent babies.

I wonder if Archbishop Michael Sheen whispered to Pope Benedict, “Psst, Gov. Bill Richardson supports the brutal and painful murder of beautiful, healthy, innocent and defenseless human babies.”

The Catholic News Service story is interesting in that it notes that while Gov. Bill Richardson “supports legalized abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, which the church opposes” Archbishop Michael Sheen said, “We were able to help him understand our opposition to the death penalty and he did indeed change his view and signed the law. One thing at a time. It is the result of our dialogue and prayer, and that of many others, that enabled him to see and to change his position. There are better ways to protect citizens from bad guys than killing them.”
As to why Pope Benedict had to be told about what Gov. Bill Richardson repealed the death penalty, “it was not the Vatican or the Catholic Church that was honoring Richardson, but the Catholic lay Community of Sant’Egidio.”

As to why Gov. Bill Richardson made “the most difficult decision in my political life”:

“One, I didn’t want America to continue being isolated,” being one of the very few democracies still using capital punishment.Second, he said, he visited a prison before making the decision and decided that life in prison, staying in a small cell 23 hours a day, “was worse than death.”Also, the Gov. said, he was moved by the fact that some 130 people sentenced to death in the United States had been freed in the past 10 years when it was discovered they were wrongly convicted.The fact that most people on death row are members of minority groups – “African-American or Hispanic like me,” he said — made him question the fairness of the system.And, in addition, he said, with all the necessary legal processes involved in ensuring fairness and justice before an execution, capital punishment is costlier than life imprisonment.”Plus, my archbishop, a man who I deeply respect, was very active on this issue,” he said.[fn] Cindy Wooden, “State’s decision to abolish death penalty marked at Rome’s Colosseum,” Catholic News Service , Apr-15-2009[/fn]

These are all good reasons. Perhaps next he will visit the dumpster outside of abortion clinics and talk with women whose health has suffered due to abortion and women and men who live with deep regret and guilt for a lifetime.

As for Archbishop Michael Sheehan, he was asked:

_about the decision of some bishops to refuse to give Communion to Catholic politicians, like Richardson, who do not uphold certain church teachings, particularly on the sacredness of every human life.”I do not want to bring holy Communion into a situation that makes it look like a penalty. I do not think it is good to take the sacrament of holy Communion and make it a weapon in a context that is political,” he said.The archbishop said the Vatican has “not been approaching politicians who have a different view in that way, nor do I think we should do it in the United States.”At the same time, he said, he will continue to defend the right of church members, including bishops, to speak publicly about political issues that have a moral implication.

I must admit that I do not recall that the Bible states, “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, unless he is a politician eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
Rather the Bible states:

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1st Corinthians 11:27-29).

Moreover, since the Vatican is neglectful in not “approaching politicians who have a different view” neither does anyone hierarchically under the Pope need worry. Sure, they can voice their opinions but these are not ex cathedra.

Every Roman Catholic from the Pope on down the chain should be urged to either abandon or actually enforce their Catechism.

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