They have a problem:
Saudi Arabia is considering halting beheadings in favor of firing squads, as officials report the government is running out of swordsmen to carry out executions.
A joint Saudi committee made up of representatives from the interior, justice and health departments is deliberating the idea, according to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, citing Saudi newspaper Al-Youm.
“This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid interruption of the regularly-taken security arrangements,” the committee said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia beheaded 69 people in 2012.
In Saudi Arabia, rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are among the crimes punishable by death under Shariah Law, Al-Ahram reports.
Speaking over a smuggled cellphone from his prison cell, one of seven Saudis set to be put to death Tuesday by crucifixion and firing squad for armed robbery appealed for help to stop the executions.
One of the many problems facing American Catholic death penalty advocates (in addition to the “Don’t stand so close to me” fact that they are in the not-at-all-brutal-Bronze-Age-and-murderous company of such enlightened regimes as Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and China) is that those trying to make the argument that they know better than the Magisterium what “God’s will” is here seem to offer extremely selective readings of the Bible when they invoke it to support the death penalty. It’s always and only for murder (and sometimes rape) that the apostles of the death penalty plead. Not for theft, blasphemy, apostasy, or adultery. Somehow the dedication to BIBLICAL TRVTH never seems to extend to a wish to put Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich or the numerous conservatives burning through their second or third wives to death.
Similarly, though some actually have the chutzpah to appeal to the Good Thief’s “We are receiving the just punishment for our sins” as biblical “support” for the death penalty, none of them seem super eager to say, “Therefore crucifixion is just punishment for theft”. They want death, but they want to keep it neat, clean, and above all private. At least the Saudis have the courage of their savage, backward, Bronze Age convictions.
2267 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.
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 to 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 definitely 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 nonexistent.”
Abolish the Death Penalty. It’s what Benedict wanted. And, as Pope Francis makes clear, opposition to the death penalty and the prolife position are obvious corollaries.