Life Sentences Without Parole Serve a Necessary Function in Good Governance

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According to an article I read in The Guardian, Pope Francis has issued a call to do away with life sentences, calling them a ‘hidden death penalty.’

I know that the Holy Father comes from Argentina, and that he lived through a brutal regime in which the government engaged in random arrests, incarceration, torture and even murder of its own citizens. I have no doubt that his feelings about life sentences are informed by his own life experiences. I would guess that, if I was looking at the issue from the perspective of brutal, totalitarian regimes, I would agree with him about this.

Under those circumstances, life sentences can indeed become a “hidden death penalty.”

However, life sentences are also a necessary alternative to the death penalty. Without life sentences, there would be no option in dealing with certain types of criminals except to put them to death.

The reason I say this is that there are people who are too dangerous to ever be allowed to walk free. It is as simple and as hard as that. Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson (and his girls), the BTK killer and all their kin must be kept from the public in order to maintain the public safety.

There are three alternatives here.

1. Let them out after a few years and then go to the funerals of their new victims.

2. Keep them locked up.

3. Kill them.

I have chosen to keep them locked up. The reason I made that choice was that I did not want to use the death penalty to kill them. However, if the choice was the death penalty or letting them out to kill again, I would be forced to chose the death penalty.

A just and stable government is always the greater good. That is the controlling principle by which I operated while I was an elected official. I think it should be the controlling principle for all governance.

It is impossible to have a government that is either just or stable if killers are allowed to roam free to kill at will. It is also a fact that certain crimes against persons and society are so grievous that the perpetrators must, in justice, spend the rest of their lives outside of society.

This flies in the face of Christian mercy, of the idea that all people are redeemable. I know that. But it is a necessary component to good governance and establishing a legal order which places a sufficient weight on the value of human life,

You may not kill people.

That has to be the bottom line for all good governance concerning human life. The wanton murder of an innocent human being must be set aside as a crime so grave, so final, that its finality is reflected in the punishment. I am not advocating an eye for an eye. I do not favor the death penalty, and I’ve got the votes and the scars to prove it.

But I believe absolutely that a just and stable government is always the greater good. The horrors the people of Argentina experienced under an unjust government are just one example of what can happen when those who hold the power of state use that power in unjust ways.

In order to maintain what the Founding Fathers called “domestic tranquility” we must have prisons. We must have just laws and redress from government abuse of its power. Every citizen must have the right to seek redress through the courts. And we must have laws that place sufficient gravity on the value of human life to protect the citizenry.

I believe that life sentences, including the option of a life sentence without parole, (which I authored legislation to create in Oklahoma) are a necessary component in maintaining the public order, and an equally necessary alternative to the death penalty.

Pope Francis Will Travel to Holy Land with a Rabbi and Muslim Friend

Pope Francis does it his way.

In a complete departure from previous papal trips abroad, he is bringing two friends of other faiths along with him on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land.

Pope Francis’ longtime friends, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader in Argentina’s Islamic community, will accompany him on his journey to the Holy Land later this week.

The Vatican spokesman called this a “novelty.” I think of it as a symbol of what this land of many faiths could, and hopefully one day will, be.

From The New York Daily News:

VATICAN CITY – A rabbi and a Muslim leader will join Pope Francis on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land, the first time an official papal delegation has included members of other faiths, the Vatican said Thursday.

Francis’ two longtime friends and collaborators from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader of Argentina’s Islamic community, are on the official delegation for the May 24-26 trip to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said their presence on the delegation was an “absolute novelty” desired by Francis to show the “normality” of having friends of other faiths.

Skorka and then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio together wrote “On Heaven and Earth,” which explores Jewish and Catholic perspectives on a host of issues. Abboud, meanwhile, was Bergoglio’s main Muslim interlocutor in Buenos Aires and recently participated in an Argentine interfaith pilgrimage tracing the key stops of Francis’ upcoming tour.

I Want to Sing Pope Francis a Song

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2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Holy Father Warns Bishops of Coming Persecution

Pope Francis has spoken of Christian persecution. So did Pope Benedict XVI. The papacy is continuity, going back to the words, Thou art Peter. Unfortunately, Christian persecution is a continuity, as well. More Christians have died for their faith in the last century than all the previous centuries combined.

Far from abating, Christian persecution appears to be worsening and spreading, including socially accepted Christian baiting and bullying of Christians here in post Christian America. 

I wrote this post on January 11, 2013. 

 

The Holy Father cautioned bishops that they will inevitably face persecution for standing for Christ in the increasingly secular world of the future.

He issued this warning in his homily for Epiphany. Even though the warning was directed to bishops, I think it applies to all Christians. The day of cheap grace is passing for all of us.

We must, as Joshua instructed the Israelites, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” I hope that we will be able to say along with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

ROME, January 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “What sort of man” must a bishop be? The kind of man who can face persecution without flinching, Pope Benedict XVI said at the Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

At the Mass, the pope ordained four priests to the episcopate, one of whom is his close confidante and private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein.

Pope Benedict XVI

“Inevitably,” the pope said, faithful bishops will be “beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ”.

The Pope’s comments follow his recent pattern of especially strong statements on Dec. 14Dec. 21and Jan. 7  in response to the increasing push for abortion, acceptance of homosexual behaviour and general fierce opposition to the Church’s moral teachings from both inside and outside the Church.

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” Pope Benedict said.

“Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous.” Seeking the “approval of the prevailing wisdom,” he said, “is not a criterion to which we submit.”

“The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves,” said the pope. “The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.” (Read more here.)

Forbes Names Pope Francis the World’s Fourth Most Powerful Person

Pope Francis managed to make Forbes most powerful list, and he did it without a single Tomahawk missile.

I would guess that this is a bow to the pope’s worldwide popularity. What is ironic is that despite the fact that the pope has none of the trappings of raw power that the other members of the Most Powerful list possess, he really does have a kind of power.

The power to persuade through love and hope is and always has been the most potent kind of power that anyone can possess. What these other people have is the power to destroy — through weapons, taxes regulations., or expenditures of monies. They can, if they are careful, creative and deeply good people, shape this power to the purposes of good.

But Pope Francis has the healing power of Christ at his disposal. This acts on the many cruelties and sins of individual lives in the same way that water acts on stone. It slowly wears away the rough edges and transforms, but it does it so gradually and painlessly that the observer can not see it as it happens.

What is interesting is that every Christian has access to this same healing power, if they will just use it. Scripture tells us that love is stronger than death. I don’t think this refers only to physical death. I think it refers to our whole death-worshipping culture and, on a personal scale, to the many little deaths of cruelty and indifference that we encounter in our daily lives.

Love is stronger than death. God’s love is stronger than the entropy of decaying civilizations and the slow deconstruction of wasted lives. His love cancels out the annihilation that is the core craving of all deep evil.

God’s love is the not just the transforming power in human society. It is the glue that holds everything, everywhere, together. We see the corrosive effect that rejecting God has on individuals, on their belief systems and their overall behavior. We see it writ large on societies that fall away from Him. But the truth is, God is still holding those people and this world in existence, even as they reject Him. If God ceased to love existence into existence, there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, anywhere. Existence itself would cease to exist without the power of God holding it in place.

When the scriptures tell us that He holds us in the palm of his hand, they are telling a truth that is simultaneously metaphorical and literal. We exist because He wills existence itself into being. And yet, for all that incomprehensible power and grandeur, He cares for and knows each of us as the individual lights that we are.

The Holy Father, who speaks for His Son’s Church, does have power. It is the power of the words that lead to eternal life spoken to a world dedicated to following after its own death.

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The Holy Father and the Children: Ask Me Anything You Want (And They Did)


Pope Francis tossed away his prepared remarks at an audience this week because, he said, they were boring. Rather than making a speech to the group of children who were on stage with him, he let them ask him unrehearsed, unedited, questions.

The result is one of the most charming — and revealing — exchanges I’ve ever seen with any pope. One little girl asked the Holy Father if he had wanted to be pope. He said no, he hadn’t wanted to be pope. Another asked him if is was hard to move to Italy and leave his family and friends behind.

He answered all of these questions in his usual open way.

Pope Francis is the real deal. He’s so in the bag for Jesus that he’s past the constraints of that inhibit most public people. He has the ability to reach right through the trappings of office and power and into our hearts.

The video below offers a look at this wonderful exchange between the Holy Father and the children.

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The New Pope’s Schedule for the Next Few Days

Pope Francis will have a busy schedule for the next few days.

  • Thursday, March 14: Visit Santa Maria Maggiore for prayer. Mass with Cardinals at 5 pm.
  • Friday, March 15, officially welcome all the Cardinals.
  • Saturday, March 16, audience for journalists and media representatives.
  • Sunday, March 17, the Holy Father will give his first Angelus as Pope Francis.
  • Tuesday, March 19, Pope Francis will be inaugurated Bishop of Rome in St Peter's Square.

 

 

 

Benedict’s New Title: It’s Changed Again

What are we going to call Pope Benedict XVI after his resignation takes effect February 28?

That question appears to be a dome scratcher for a lot of folks in the Vatican. They, like us, appear to be grappling with the ever-changing reality of history in the making. Thus, the we’ll-call-him-this … no-not-that-we’ll-call-him-this nature of the story of how we should address the man who was our pope.

At first, the story was that he would go back to being Cardinal Ratzinger. Then, it was that he would be the Bishop Emeritus of Rome. Now, the announcement is that Pope Benedict XVI will become the “Pope Emeritus” during his retirement.

Personally, I like this one best of all. It’s what I would have chosen at the beginning, if anyone had asked me.

After all, this title says what he truly will be, the Pope Emeritus.

Deacon Greg Kandra has the story. It says in part:

Benedict XVI will be “Pontiff emeritus” or “Pope emeritus”, as Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference on th final days of the current pontificate. He will keep the name of “His Holiness, Benedict XVI” and will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta (elbow-length cape).

Go to Deacon Greg’s blog here to read all the details.

We May Have a New Pope Sooner Than We Thought

As usual, Deacon Greg Kandra has the story.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in one of his last acts as Supreme Pontiff, has modified the rules to allow for an earlier conclave. Since most of the cardinals will be in Rome this week for his last day as Pope, many people hope that the conclave will begin then.

This change does not require an earlier conclave. It simply opens the way if the cardinals decide they want to have one. The decision itself is in the hands of the College of Cardinals.

Whatever they decide, the next few days will be historic for the Church. Our pope has resigned and we will say good-bye to our years under his care. He will retire to what he has described as a life of prayer for the Church.

And we will await a new pope.

I intend to pray this week. I am going to pray a lot. I will pray for good Pope Benedict as he, in his own words, “climbs the mountain” to what his future will bring. I will pray that the Holy Spirit moves the College of Cardinals to give us a strong, faithful and holy pope who can lead the Church through the challenges ahead of us.

I ask you to join me in these prayers in hope for our future and in gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for his faithful service to Our Lord, and to us.

The CNS story describing the pope’s rule change says in part:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his last week as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI issued new rules for conclaves, including a clause that allows the College of Cardinals to move up the date for the beginning of the conclave to elect his successor.

However, the cardinals cannot set the date until after the pope leaves office Feb. 28.

Pope Benedict also defined the exact penalty — automatic excommunication — that would be incurred by any noncardinal assisting the College of Cardinals who failed to maintain absolute secrecy about the conclave proceedings.

The pope laid out the new rules in an apostolic letter issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The Vatican released the document Feb. 25.

The changes affect the rules established in Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution governing the election of popes, “Universi Dominici Gregis.”

Under the current rules, which remain in effect, upon the vacancy of the papacy, cardinals in Rome “must wait 15 full days for those who are absent” before they can enter into a conclave and begin the process of electing a new pope.

However, Pope Benedict inserted an additional provision that grants the College of Cardinals “the faculty to move up the start of the conclave if all the cardinal-electors are present,” as well as giving them the ability “to delay, if there are serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few more days.” (Read the rest here.)

Pope’s Last Angelus Message: The Lord is Calling Me to Climb the Mountain

The Holy Father gave his last Angelus meditation as pope to huge crowds today.

It was a beautiful good-bye, in which he said:

Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength.

The complete text of the Holy Father’s Angelus address is below. You can find it on the Vatican Radio website:

Dear brothers and sisters!

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).
The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labours and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).

We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. “The Christian life – I wrote in my Message for Lent – consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love “(n. 3).

Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer which I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!


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