And another reader weighs in on Keating

One interesting fact about Frank Keating has yet to be aired in any media outlet I’ve seen: He is the governor of the state with the highest per capita number of prisoners on death row. He has gone on record as saying that the Pope is “just wrong” on the death penalty. Even more unsettling, one of the senior forensic scientists in the Oklahoma’s crime lab has been arrested for, in essence, lying about evidence (such as whether fingerprints or hair samples matched — if you watch Law and Order, they had an episode based on this story). At least one man was probably sent to his death on the basis of such evidence, but we’ll never know for sure because Oklahoma won’t do any DNA testing, stating that “it no longer matters.” Truth always matters. This is not to assign blame to Keating for all of this, but to some degree, he has tolerated this unseemly state of affairs regarding the justice system of his state, and is an ardent supporter of the death penalty in spite of these overwhelming and obvious flaws. Contrast his actions with those of Gov. Ryan of Illinois, for instance. But more important, it is to suggest that Keating may have his own ulterior motives for pushing “lay control” over church affairs — based on the fervor of his comments regarding the chruch and the death penalty I believe he has personally felt the sting of the generally more charitable view espoused by the Church in matters of criminal punishment. I view his commission as a disaster, not because of Keating’s involvement per se, but because it crystallizes for me the fact that when publicly minded, secular individuals gain such a strong hand in church affairs they are at least as if not more likely to be motivated by concerns other than the good of the church than the bishops, however royally they have screwed things up. I don’t care who loses his head (so to speak) in all of this mess, but I want the execution to be an authentic action of the Church itself, an action that is motivated for the good of the Church and its faithful, especially those faithful who have been victims of those linked with the Church. Handing that responsibility off makes it more likely that, instead, the executioner will be driven by his or her allegiance to notions of law and order criminal justice, the death penalty, political popularity, women priests, gay priests, married priests, or whatever else they promote during the time they aren’t actually sitting in church. You may feel that the bishops are inadequate, but really, that’s who we have, and action from the outside isn’t the authentic action of our Church. Of course, this is just my uninformed opinion.

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