[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- IOWA, U.S.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Fri Apr 1 09:00:47 CST 2005
death penalty news
April 1, 2005
Deadlocked Senate headed toward death penalty showdown
The deadlocked Iowa Senate appears headed for a showdown over one of the
most emotional issues lawmakers have faced this session - the question of
reinstating the death penalty.
Republican leaders insist they'll push for a vote on the issue, perhaps as
early as next week. Democratic leaders say they won't allow debate. And
with the Senate split at 25-to-25, the outcome is far from clear.The debate
has erupted in the wake of the abduction and slaying of a 10-year-old Cedar
Rapids girl. A registered sex offender is charged with the crime.The
Legislature is moving forward with efforts to toughen sex abuse laws, but
some lawmakers also are talking about reviving the state's death penalty,
abolished in 1965, as part of the debate.
(source: AP / WQAD.com)
Churchs pro-life teaching on death penalty clarified
The U.S. bishops, in accord with Pope John Paul II, have issued an appeal
for a consensus to end the use of the death penalty in our society. In the
following interview, Susan Rauscher, diocesan secretary for pastoral and
social concerns, outlined church teaching on the death penalty in
What does the Catholic Church teach about the death penalty?
The church has long recognized the right of civil authority to protect
society through the creation of laws and the execution of punishment for
those who violate laws. The church, however, calls for governments to limit
themselves to non-lethal means as a form of punishment when there are
sufficient means to defend and protect peoples safety.
While the use of the death penalty may at times fit into the definition of
a legitimate defense, those instances are becoming exceedingly rare as
society continues to develop effective, non-lethal means to protect society
from crime. Our Holy Father continues to advocate for a review of the
appropriateness of the use of the death penalty to ensure that the sanctity
of life is being safeguarded to the greatest extent possible.
Why is capital punishment regarded by the Catholic Church as a pro-life issue?
As pro-life people, we are called to be the undaunted defenders of all
human life. That requires that we not only recognize the inherent dignity
in the lives of the innocent, but we also recognize that human dignity
exists in each of us simply by our human nature. God gives the gift of
human life and he alone should determine the life span for each of us.
The very nature of human life dictates that human dignity is not something
that can be earned and, therefore, it cannot be taken away. The sanctity of
human life is inviolable and respect for human life must be preserved even
for those who do not respect human life themselves. We must respond to
criminals, even brutal murderers, in ways that reflect the teaching of Christ.
If the church seeks an end to the use of the death penalty, isnt it in
essence ignoring victims of violent crime?
The churchs opposition to the death penalty should never be construed as
lack of compassion for victims and their families. Violence wreaks a deep
and terrible price on society as well as on victims. As Christians, we are
called to respond with deep concern and compassion for those who have been
victimized by violent crime and are trying to navigate the intense pain and
grief that results from senseless and brutal violence.
It is important to recognize that opposition to the death penalty is not
opposition to justice. It is opposing the cycle of violence and physical
revenge as an answer to crime, and replaces it with a commitment to swift,
effective and non-lethal punishment that makes way for the healing power of
With all of the violent atrocities that take innocent human life, why does
the church feel compelled to speak out about capital punishment?
The death penalty not only unnecessarily takes the life of those guilty of
horrible crimes, but it also has a devastating effect on society.
Society is made weaker by continually turning to death as a solution for
complex problems. A system that resorts to promoting death as the solution
deserves our deliberate scrutiny and attention.
In Confronting a Culture of Violence, our U.S. bishops remind us that a
society which destroys its children, abandons its old and relies on
vengeance fails fundamental moral tests.
How do we teach the young to
curb their violence when we embrace it as the solution to societal problems?
Doesnt the death penalty serve as a valuable deterrent against future
There are no studies that clearly show that the death penalty deters anyone
from murder. Studies that compare statistics in states that practice
capital punishment with states that do not use death as a punishment find
that there is no significant difference in the murder rate. Therefore, it
is misleading to hold up public executions as a viable way to deter
violent, heinous crimes. One cannot teach about the inherent sanctity of
life by taking life.
Dont accused defendants receive a trial that determines their guilt and,
therefore, imposes a death sentence on those who would put society at the
Particularly in recent years with the introduction of DNA evidence, there
are recurring times when death row inmates have been exonerated due to new
or different evidence proving their innocence. Since 1973, there have been
more than 100 death row inmates exonerated. This strongly suggests that
innocent people have been killed by the state for crimes they did not
commit and that our capital punishment system is indeed fallible.
Additionally, our country has in place a capital punishment system that is
fraught with the reality that the application of the death penalty has been
unfairly applied to vulnerable groups of people. Racial minorities, the
poor, the uneducated and the disadvantaged often have inadequate and
ineffective legal representation that has led to these groups of people
being executed at a disproportionately higher rate.
As Catholics, what are we called to do in terms of understanding the death
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminds us that the new evangelization
calls for followers of Christ to be unconditionally pro-life. He tells us
that we are to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every
situation. We must be committed to increasing the recognition that the
dignity of human life must never be ignored, even in the case of someone
who has done great evil. Jesus words and actions modeled for us the
compassionate embrace of forgiveness. We are called to embrace that
(source: Pittsburgh Catholic)
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