Prosecutors to seek Death Penalty for Gosnell – UPDATED

Via Lifesite News:

Prosecutors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announced today they will seek the death penalty for abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell, who faces charged related to killing a woman in a botched abortion and killing babies infanticides.” [. . .] prosecutors notified his attorney, Jack McMahon, that they will seek death by lethal injection if a jury finds Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder in the counts he faces. Gosnell faces a third-degree murder charge related to the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar from a botched abortion Gosnell performed. Mongar died November 20, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor.

As those who get their news from alternative sources, and not the mainstream media may remember, Gosnell did a lot more than botch an abortion

What Gosnell is charged with will never match what he appears to have done, but, quite properly, prosecutors can only go by evidence.

If you remain unaware of what investigators (who were actually looking for evidence related to drug trafficking) found when they entered Gosnell’s abattoir-for-humans, read the Grand Jury’s Report, if you can take it.

Nevertheless, I would defend this man’s right to live his life out in prison, rather than watch the state take his life. His life is not anyone else’s to take. For pro-lifers, this is a no-brainer.

And he may need many years and much time, in order to understand the enormity of what he has done, and allow his heart to be turned. He may need time for conversion and salvation.

As John Paul II wrote on the death penalty:

A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary. (Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, MO, January 1999)

and…

Punishment cannot be reduced to mere retribution, much less take the form of social retaliation or a sort of institutional vengeance. Punishment and imprisonment have meaning if they serve the rehabilitation of the individual by offering those who have made a mistake an opportunity to reflect and to change their lives in order to be fully reintegrated into society. (Pope John Paul II, Jubilee Homily to Prisoners, Rome, July 2002)

God is Just, and he is Merciful; God will deal with Kermit Gosnell in ways we can never imagine.

We know this:
God wills us, loves us, into being; he wants his creation, and his creatures to live in his love and to become holy, as he is All-Holy. We know he longs for us to understand the depths of his love, and to know that his Justice can only be right and perfect (as our own sense of justice can never be) because he is Truth.

We know, ultimately, that what God wants — what he incarnated for, and died for — is the conversion and salvation of our broken and confused hearts, so that we may be reconciled to him. He wants us to let ourselves to be wholly, fully loved by His Majesty.

And knowing that, one can only pray for Kermit Gosnell and his accomplices, that they will one day make a heartful plea for mercy, and find their expression in the words of the prophet, Isaiah 38:17: “…you have saved me from the pit of destruction, when you cast behind your back, all of my sins.”

After all, it’s happened before.

UPDATE I: Ed Morrissey is admitting to a struggle that I think many will identify with:

. . .this is the kind of case that can certainly cause one to question their opposition. Gosnell murdered living babies fully born and separated from their mothers, and did so in a crude and cruel manner. He kept trophies of his victims on shelves in his clinic. If anyone doubts the cruelty and horrors visited upon these helpless infants and the women in the community, please be sure to read the grand jury report from start to finish, if you can stomach it. If the death penalty has any meaning at all, then Gosnell has to qualify for it.

Still, this may end up creating a cottage industry of Gosnell as a martyr, if previous death-penalty cases provide any track record at all. We’ll be subject to numerous media pieces on Gosnell’s “service” to the community, a religious conversion or two, and probably even his artistic je ne sais quoi. Free Kermit rallies will pop up all over Pennsylvania. Inevitably, someone (or a whole bunch of someones) will play the race card, even though Gosnell made a fortune in his butchery and exploited the poor of his own community.

All true. And Jesus never said following him would be easy. We often find ourselves between the rubber and the road.

UPDATE II via New Advent:
Archbishop Timothy Dolan: Let Crisis-Pregnancy Centers Do Their Work
Catholic Pheonix: An Argument that God Likes Us

Related:
Reuters reports
William Saletan: The Next Gosnell
Fetuses to “testify” before Ohio legislative committee
Deacon Greg Agrees

Meanwhile:
Another abortionist arrested in a drug-related sting

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Pam

    There’s no one to contact asking for life instead of the death penalty for Gosnell?

  • Anonymous

    Please forgive me if I still stand ready to throw the switch.

  • http://www.catholicdadsonline.org Rob Kaiser

    I agree that we should advocate life rather than the death penalty, but not because of justice – there are in fact cases where what one does can deserve death – and the State does have the power to determine that in justice.

    The reason we are against such things is different than in the taking of innocent life. Here the question is not of justice, but of mercy. We must pray for our enemies. We must act as Christ. Part of that is providing the opportunity for an evildoer to repent. Cutting a life short eliminates that opportunity, so in Christian mercy we are opposed to it.

  • Anonymous

    He’ll die in jail.

    Even if convicted and sentenced to death, it would be many years before he would be executed. I don’t think he’d live that long.

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    I would sell tickets to his execution with the proceeds going to a pro-life organization of some kind. I know – hardly a Christian attitude. I’m working on that and, as you say, if anyone deserves to die for his crimes – it is this man.

  • Nick

    And as Benedict noted this is not a binding statement as the Church has been totally comfortable with executions going on for, well, since at least the Flood.

  • ck

    Why is he any different than any other abortionist? Because he puts the person who ordered the “hit” at risk? There should be some risk when you order the execution of another human.

  • ck

    Why is he any different than any other abortionist? Because he puts the person who ordered the “hit” at risk? There should be some risk when you order the execution of another human.

  • Chris L.

    No offense to the author of the blog but I’m getting sick of JPII quotes that are directly contradicting doctrinal Church teaching. His opinions on the death penalty are just that, his opinions. To quote a much greater mind that his, thats actually in line with the Church’s teaching on the matter, “The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil.” – St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146)

  • ben gazi

    The death penalty would be a mercy to Gosnell as it would a) help him to focus on his upcomign Judgment and possibly lead to his conversion b) if he offers his life to God in part payment for the evil he has done he will get time off Purgatory.

    If he only gets a life prison sentence he will be deprived of this mercy.

  • ChronicSinner

    Here we go again…another one of those “we must rise above our passions and preclude the use of the death penalty because the new and improved CCC says we must rely upon a bloodless punishment” assertions. In most situations, that may well be true, but this is not one of those times, and indeed, IMO, is borderline offensive given what this man did to innocent human life.

    As Nick pointed out, according to none other than our current pope, Catholics of equally good moral standing can have legitimate differences of opinion about the proper application of the death penalty by the state. With all due respect to the prudential judgement of JPII regarding capital punishment, it is not now, nor has it ever been, precluded by THE MAGISTERIUM. Indeed, if we are really concerned with the doctor’s conversion and repentance, then we need to heed the advice of one of the doctors of the the Church, Thomas Aquinas, who felt that an impending execution could potentially trigger a truer and more expedient change of heart in the criminal, thus affording him a better chance at salvation.

  • Anonymous

    And the Catechism: 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.”68

    I understand your passion, and I understand that JPII was expressing an opinion. I also understand that killing Gosnell would simply make society feel better about things. But if we subscribe that Ceasar’s stuff be rendered to Ceasar and God’s stuff be rendered to God, we still have to deal with the fact that Gosnell is God’s creation and his life is still God’s over Ceasar’s.

  • Anonymous

    Then there is the Catechism:
    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.”68

  • ChronicSinner

    ML…the Magisterium (at least 2 levels of it) is the infalliable voice that we Catholics are obliged to submit our will and intellect to…not the CCC. Indeed, if the CCC contradicts what has been taught by the Church for 2000 years, then it is not infalliable. Legitimate use of the death penalty by the state has deep roots in both Scripture and Tradition. The CCC excerpts you provided were not in the original draft of the new CCC and were inserted by request of JPII and are PRUDENTIAL JUDGEMENTS of his which we are supposed to respectfully consider, but are not obliged to accept in every circumstance. I submit to you, that this is one of those circumstances.

  • Chris L.

    I’m fully aware of the current catechism’s stance on the death penalty. Clearly a prudental judgement was inserted instead of what the Church has always taught concerning the death penalty, since it clearly is not in line with the Church’s previous teachings. But then again, it was under JPII that it was written and approved, so no suprise there. Also, the catechism is basing this statement on the assumption that the modern prison system actually rehabilitates criminals (let alone bring them to true repentence), which is laughable given the recidivism rates in the western world. The whole “render unto Ceasar” argument is irrelevant to this discussion since it has always been taught that the state has been given the authority by God to administer justice, even to the point of the death penalty. It isn’t a case of the state doing something reserved to God alone (and since He has done it, then who are we to call it “cruel?”) and therefore need be halted. Lets do a quick comparison between the current CCC and the Catechism of Trent.

    “The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.

    In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8).”
    (Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)

  • ChronicSinner

    ML…please see reply to you below.

  • Anonymous

    So, why should we kill Gosnell? Because it will prevent other abortionists from engaging in his extreme depravity? Do you think it would have that effect? What do you believe would happen with regards to the press? Do you think killing him might make a martyr of him in some quarters? What will be solved by killing him?

  • Brian English

    “I also understand that killing Gosnell would simply make society feel better about things.”

    I think it is far more than that. Some murders are so heinous that not imposing the death penalty as their punishment actually diminishes the value and dignity of human life. I think Gosnell’s crimes fall in that category.

    As far as redemption goes, I forget who said it, but I think it is applicable here: “Nothing focuses the mind like the knowledge that one is going to the gallows in the morning.”

  • Mike Ruetz

    IMPORTANT: This comment is strictly addressed to my Brothers and Sisters (including the Anchoress) who self-identify as Christian believers.

    Please tell me how we square these two statements:

    “His life is not anyone else’s to take. For pro-lifers, this is a no-brainer.”
    - The Anchoress

    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

    For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good.

    But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. ”
    – The Apostle Paul (Rom 13:1-4)

    Paul’s admonition to the Romans unequivocally asserts that it is the state’s responsibility and authority to exact justice upon evildoers. – And this responsibility/authority has been conferred by God himself.

    If you would argue that this only authorizes the state to punish but not to kill . . . what do you think a sword is for?

    We may disagree with each other about the death penalty, but I think the Anchoress’ argument that this is a “no brainer for pro-lifers” is just not true.

    The Ritz on March 2, 2011 at 6:01 PM

  • SharonW

    I’ve read Evangelium Vitae no less than 3 times, with the express prayer that the Holy Spirit change my pro-death penalty position if that be His will. I stand by my assertion that there is a difference between innocent life and guilty life. The fact that our faith interprets the commandment as “Thou shalt not kill” rather than the proper “Thou shalt not murder” has a lot to do with the confusion. That and the clear lapse of distinguishing between the 3 institutions created by God…the family, the church and the government. The state has jurisdiction over matters pertaining to criminal justice. Both church & state are meant to uphold and support the preeminent institution of family. Lo, we live in times where with the help of the church, the government has encroached to a disabling degree the area consigned to family. Is it any wonder that 55 million in the US alone have been willfully aborted legally. The undermining of the family and the Church is at the core of our greatest troubles.

  • Ray D.

    It is pretty clear from Scripture that both Moses and Paul agreed that the death penalty was just, and that the state had the right to punish crime by executing criminals.

    There is no contradiction between saying that the state can punish evildoers with the sword, and saying that the state must protect innocent human life.

    The burden is actually on you to explain why sticking a person in prison for life is a biblically just punishment. Moses had nothing to say about prison. Paul spent time in prison, but mostly while he was waiting for a trial to occur, when he would receive his “real” punishment or acquittal to happen.

    Wicked kings did throw prophets in dungeons on occasion, so it would seem that long-term imprisonment as a form of punishment is a bad idea.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Sorry, but I’m not so generous in spirit. The death penalty has a long history as being acceptable in Catholicism. Social justice requires it. It’s not retrobution; it’s just punishment. If anyone deserves the death penalty, this fiend deserves it. Whether God forgives him or not is not for me or anyone else to decide. Keeping him alive just so he can have more time to change his heart is absurd. And frankly unjust to those he violated.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Excellent.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I keep waiting for the Holy Spirit to change my position on pro-death penalty but it doesn’t happen either. All one has to do is read some of the heinous acts committed on innocent people and you realize you are staring at the face of evil. There is no other punishment but the death penalty for such evil. Otherwise there can be no justice.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Excellent point. Plus he may not live in jail. Child killers do not do well.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    True enough. But a death penalty would make a huge statement.

  • KY Catholic

    I’ve prayed and thought but I can’t go along with no death penalty ever. There are sins that cry out to God for vengance. If this man isn’t a textbook case of a monster then what is?

  • Maggie

    What did Gosnell do that isn’t done nearby in Planned Parenthood clinics? He just didn’t gussy it up and sanitize it. His was, at least, a true depiction of what really goes on in those clinics.

  • Patt

    If anyone ever earned the death penalty–it was this “doctor”. He was making lots of money killing–now is the time to pay for his crimes.

  • doc

    Anchoress, you seem rather concerned about this killer’s salvation. I’d submit to you that he’s likely to seek forgiveness as his execution draws near and equally likely to agitate for a pardon from an abortion-loving Democrat governor if he is permitted to become a martyr for Leftists like that scum, Mumia.

  • TerryC

    I’m afraid I must go with Tolkien here:
    “Many who live deserve death, and many who die deserve life, can you give it to them? Then be not to quick to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for you own safety, not even the wise see all ends.” -J.R.R Tolkien

    I support the death penalty, under the conditions described in the Catechism. Gosnell certainly deserves death, as do many other people. And many who die deserve to live. Gosnell is no longer a danger to society. He will never practice medicine (if you can even call what he practiced medicine) again. He will likely never see the outside of a jail, nor should he. His death will never bring justice tot he situation. The taking of his one life will never make up for all of the lives (both the living and dead) that he destroyed. I say leave that to God.

  • Patt

    We are told that the death penalty does not deter criminals, yet in countries where it is used the crime rate is low. This man should simply be given the pity and compassion he gave his patients, especially the most helpless of all creatures–newborns who he murdered for money.

  • Conan Nightlee

    There are cases when execution would be more merciful than life in prison.

    In order to protect the dignity of life sometimes the death penalty is necessary.

    Sure glad Pope JP wasn’t around when Jesus was on trial. Else he’d have pinned away doing life in prison for all our sins instead of got it over with on a tree. I know the pope’s infallible and all, but surely there’s a BIG incongruity there…?


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