Die, Gosnell! Die!

… If there was ever a human being deserving of the death penalty it is Kermit Gosnell. A death sentence would be justice served. Does this mean I’m a big ole pro-life hypocrite and think only the babies are worth saving? No. It means I believe in fitting punishments for the severity of the crime. Gosnell murdered babies in the most gruesome manner imaginable. He kept their severed feet as trophies. For that I believe the death penalty is a just punishment.

Now I like Abby Johnson well enough. She’s a heroic champion of the pro-life movement. We also have quite a lot in common; however, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything she says. And in this particular instance I don’t completely agree with her.

She doesn’t want Kermit Gosnell to receive the death penalty because it feels too unmerciful and hateful. Contrary to her opinion, my desire for the death penalty does not mean I hate the man or would celebrate his death, and most certainly doesn’t imply that I want him to roast in hell either. It simply means I believe in justice.

Also, a death sentence is not a Hell sentence. As a converted Catholic she should be aware of this. The Church has traditionally recognized the rights of the state to impose capital punishments. Also receiving these just punishments can be redemptive and efficacious to their final judgement. Why I dare say the death penalty would actually be a mercy for Gosnell. It sure as heck beats a sudden unprovided death.

See, it’s not like the olden days where the convicted were marched off in chains to the gallows shortly after the sentence was given. Inmates wait on death row for an average of 17 years. That’s a loooong time to think about their crimes and seek forgiveness.

Personally, I would like to see Kermit Gosnell convert, repent, and seek the sacrament of reconciliation before he dies- as I would of any sinner. Hell is forever and we should never rejoice in a soul tormenting there. We can pray for him and we can also be satisfied with a sentence of capital punishment without being bad Catholics. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The rest of her article, while good, is all personal anecdote and feelings. Neither of which trump justice being justly served.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnnykickstart John Flynn

    Pope John Paul II would disagree with you on this: http://nccbuscc.org/sdwp/national/deathpenalty/holyfather.shtml

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnnykickstart John Flynn

    and more statements: “May the death penalty, an unworthy punishment still used in some
    countries, be abolished throughout the world.” (Prayer at the Papal Mass
    at Regina Coeli Prison in Rome, July 9, 2000).

    “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.” (Homily at the Papal Mass in the Trans
    World Dome, St. Louis, Missouri, January 27, 1999).

    • nannon31

      John Paul II called the death penalty “cruel” in St. Louis in 1999. John, square that with God giving over 30 death penalties within your Catholic Bible…start with Genesis 9:5-6….and end with Romans 13:4. Was God ” cruel” in those days and then changed John?

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnnykickstart John Flynn
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398218302 Brian F Hudon

    I’m going to say it and it’s not going to be popular. Abby Johnson is a detriment to the pro-life movement. For several years, Abby Johnson has run her critics and opponents into the ground by trying to hold a personal monopoly on what it means to be pro-life. Her latest rant through Facebook bemoans the fact that some believe that abortionist Kermit Gosnell should get the death penalty, an opinion likely little changed now that Gosnell has bargained for his life, something the man would not do for even one of the thousands of unborn children he murdered in his Philadelphia butcher’s shop. It’s a pattern of silencing criticism that goes back to her own days as an abortion clinic director.

    So how is Abby Johnson really a detriment to the pro-life movement? By driving people away from the movement every time they express righteous anger about the daily murder of 3000 unborn children.People need to get angry about abortion. Her own spiritual adviser Father Frank Pavone has stated rightly that people will not reject abortion until they see abortion. So when people do see abortion and become angry and express those emotions, what is Abby Johnson’s response? She silences them. Anger usually is the first response to viewing murder and genocide with one’s own two eyes. Anger is the correct response to such horrible things. There is time for for healing and compassion later.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    He won’t get capital punishment. He worked a plea deal, and Deo Gratias that he did.

    I’m against the death penalty in cases such as his because it is too easy, for both sides.

    I’m against the death penalty in this specific case for the same reason I’d like to publically thank Kermit Gosnell for taking the plea deal. As a 76 year old man he would never have survived the appeal process anyway, the plea deal includes him agreeing to NEVER petition for parole and NEVER file for an appeal. It’d just be a waste of taxpayer dollars anyway.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      I’m not against, obviously. I know he took a plea deal so all this talk is hypothetical anyway. I was just objecting to Abby’s article that those who think he deserves it are doing so solely out of malice and not out of the desire to simply see justice served. It’s about justice… not eternal damnation. At least for me anyway.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        In justice- there are only two types of crimes that we even consider the death penalty for to me:
        -those for which the death penalty is too evil because it cuts off the possibility of forgiveness from the victims
        -those for which the death penalty is too easy because there is NO possibility of forgiveness from the victims

        Gosnell falls into the second category most certainly; an easy lethal injection is too good for him.

  • adorientem

    From the Roman 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 with 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 definitively taking away
    from him the possibility of redeeming himself–the cases in which the
    execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are rare, if not
    practically non-existent.’ (NT: John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56)

  • Barbara Fryman

    Never mind Abbey Johnson, your title is gleefully unmerciful. I like your blog, but this post is not and accurate depiction of Catholic teaching and I don’t believe for one second that you wouldn’t rejoice at this man’s death.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Well then, you’d believe wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/farleftflank A Liberal Catholic

    I gotta say, as despicable as what Gosnell did was, killing him would be about our anger, our indignation, and our vengence. There is no justice to be found in executing him. It will not make anyone safer, it will not prevent or deter future crimes. There is no societal interest in his death. It is unnecessary and therefore immoral.

    We should instead learn from him. How did he get around the rules? Who looked the other way while he slaughtered these kids? What types of women approached him and why did they seek these late term abortions? Cutting off the supply of abortions without attempting to address the demand for them will create more Gosnells.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      The death penalty is about justice being served. He took a plea deal anyway, so all this is really hypothetical. My point is, the death penalty is not against Church teaching and thinking he deserves it is not always about revenge or hate, like Abby implied. It’s simply about seeing justice served.

      Damnation and the death sentence are not the same thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/oremusproinvicem Peter Shaw

        Katrina,
        While you and I agree on a great number of things, we in the Unites States have no reason to utilize the death penalty. He have the means to keep someone incarceration for all their life. The death penalty is not justice of God, but of man. I would encourage you to speak with your pastor or another priest that you trust because you’re not thinking with the mind of the Church on this matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roseanna.hatke Roseanna Hatke

    It would be satisfying to see Gosnell get the death penalty. But that is too quick and easy. I prefer to see him rot in prison for a good long time. Don’t worry, he won’t last long in there. That said, I do pray for his repentance, but I am not going to waste a lot of prayers on it….one or two is all he is going to get from me. He is just too evil.

  • http://catholicismforcutters.wordpress.com/ Broken Whole

    The Church has traditionally recognized the rights of the state to impose capital punishments.

    Yes, but the Church also recognizes that the death penalty, in contemporary society, is almost never required to ensure the safety of the populace (the only justification for the death penalty that the Church recognizes). To quote the Catechism:

    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 those are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with 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 definitively 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 non-existent”. (CCC 2267 emphases mine)

    If all the forms of liberal dissent that have been attacked on this blog in the past represent “cafeteria Catholicism,” how is this any different?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Le sigh.

      This post is in response to Abby’s article implying that those who would like to see Gosnell get the death penalty are doing so solely out of hate or malice. No… it would simply be justice served.

      • http://catholicismforcutters.wordpress.com/ Broken Whole

        I don’t ask this snarkily but sincerely: Why is it not dissent? I understand that the Church does not condemn the application of the death penalty in all places and at all times, but I really don’t see how the application in this case—or the claim that it’s necessary for justice, not for the sake of public safety—is consistent with the Church’s position on the issue.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

          I think the death penalty applies in this instance . For his crime he deserves the most extreme punishment. His case is certainly extreme to warrant it. I don’t suppose I can argue my opinion, because that’s really all it is. For the crime, it is my opinion that the death sentence would be justifiable.

          My opinion is not dissent because it doesn’t contradict Church teaching. I can think he is deserving on the sentence and still desire he repent to avoid hell.

          Abby seems to think those who think he deserves the death penalty just want to see him die. I want to see justice served to it’s fullest.

          • http://catholicismforcutters.wordpress.com/ Broken Whole

            I suppose that we’ll just have to agree to disagree. If the Catechism is Church teaching (which is at least one thing that I imagine we can agree on), then it would appear that your opinion contradicts it. The portion of the Catechism that I and other commenters have quoted doesn’t seem to be concerned at all with the question of whether we should wish murderers to go to Hell—though obviously other portions of Church teaching suggest that we should not—it solely seems to be concerned with what circumstances warrant the application of the death penalty. So far as I can tell, this case doesn’t meet that criteria, which is concerned not with the seriousness of the crime but solely with questions of public safety.

            Incidentally, even though I do disagree with you (and it seems to me that the teachings of the Church do as well) on this issue, I do recognize that your desire for the application of the death penalty in this case isn’t due to a sense of vengeance but is born out of a desire for justice. I think it is uncharitable to suggest that all supporters of the death penalty are simply bloodthirsty and vindictive, for that is clearly not always the case.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

            I want to thank you for disagreeing with me in a civil manner. It’s so rare these days to encounter two people that don’t agree without one calling the other a “h8ter”.

    • nannon31

      Broken Whole,
      There are regressions in various papal writings that are non infallible. Historically Pope Leo X’s support of burning heretics in Exsurge Domine ( 1520) is now considered an error of “coercion of spirit” ( section 80, Splendor of the Truth). The death penalty sections of Evangelium Vitae actually made an intellectual error. John Paul repeatedly pointed to God’s protection of Cain from being killed by others for his sin as relevant for us as to valuing life. What John Paul never noticed was that the same God soon after in Genesis gives a death penalty for murder in Genesis 9:5-6…” Whoever sheds the blood of man by man will his blood be shed for in the image of God has man been made.” What made God seemingly change was that He was beginning the first government under Nimrod in Genesis 10. Ergo…God had protected Cain from execution by non government private avengers….vigilantes. As soon as God establishes government, God gives both Jews and Gentiles the above death penalty for murder in the persons of Shem ( Jews) and Japhet and Ham ( Gentiles). That Gen.9:5-6 death penalty is ackowledged by Christ when He tells Pilate that Pilate has that power over life and death because he received it from
      God…” you would have no power over me at all were it not given you from above.” Oddly then God gave human dignity of the victim as the reason for the death penalty of Gen.9:5-6 but Bishops are reversing that whenever they say the death penalty is against human dignity. The Jews only death penalties of Leviticus are over because they were for personal sin. Genesis 9:5-6 is still applicable as is shown by Romans 13:4 ” not without reason does it ( the state) carry the sword for it is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil.” John Paul’s trust in modern penology only protects you from CAUGHT murderers who are only 62% of murderers in the US and only 5% of murderers in Guatemala. Hence deterence is more important than John Paul appreciated. China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have much lower rates of murder than the aggregate of Catholic countries. Ps…Romans 13:4 was written while Rome had inescapable life sentences in the mines whereas Chapo Guzman escaped maximum security in Mexico recently and returned to heading the Sinaloa cartel.

      • http://catholicismforcutters.wordpress.com/ Broken Whole

        I wasn’t suggesting that the teaching on the death penalty was infallible. I was just pointing towards what seemed to be an inconsistency in how some conservative Catholics (including Katrina at certain points in the past) have argued that liberal Catholics who held that teachings could be mistaken (including ones that do not clearly hold infallible weight), are bad Catholics, cafeteria Catholics, or simply “not Catholics” because they don’t hold to every teaching of the Church. I’m just saying that if that is your standard for what constitutes “cafeteria Catholicism,” then this type of disagreement is the same thing. If you can say that Evangelium Vitae made an error, then folks should be equally free to say the same thing about Humanae Vitae.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

          I know. I was a terrible uncharitable ass in the past… MUCH worse so than I am now. I like to think I’m getting better. I’d *like* to think that.

  • nobody special

    CCC 2267

    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 are 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 non-existent.”

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2267.htm

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

    No. You presume too much.

    • Barbara Fryman

      Really? Die, Gosnel! Die! Isn’t an inflammatory title communicating a bloodthirsty spirit? I’ll have to take your word for it because I cannot read it any other way, and you have always come across as honest.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

        It was honestly meant as humor… dark humor. Abby’s article seemed to imply those who wanted the most extreme form of punishment for Gosnell were behaving in a vengeful blood thirsty manner.

        I suppose if that was missed then I indeed did communicate myself poorly.

        • davend

          It’s inappropriate that you see these events as a topic for humor. Blog entries like this do a great disservice to the pro-life movement.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

            Puh-lease. I was making fun over Abby’s over wrought emotional article.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

    The same way any criminal repents on death row. He won’t be denied a pastor and spiritual council. He also won’t be denied prayers from us.

  • kirthigdon

    The CCC seems to leave no doubt that the death penalty should only be used where it is the only method to protect the public safety and no one is claiming that is the case here. Yes, Gosnell deserves the death penalty and so do many others. But I daily pray to God for mercy and not to give me what I deserve. (“Although we are sinners we trust in your mercy and love; do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness.”) It would seem rather hypocritical to demand strict justice for others while pleading for mercy for myself.
    Kirt Higdon

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Justice is mercy.

      “Also, a death sentence is not a Hell sentence… Also receiving these just punishments can be redemptive and efficacious to their final judgement. Why I dare say the death penalty would actually be a mercy for Gosnell. It sure as heck beats a sudden unprovided death.

  • Nan

    He may die yet. Inmates don’t like people who do bad things to children.

  • dabhidh

    Thank you, Katrina. The no-death-penalty people have some good arguments and I do not fault their motivation or their reasoning, but I still think that there are some crimes that are so abominable that the death penalty is necessary.

    As to whether or not this denies a criminal the opportunity to repent, I say send a priest into the cell and give him an opportunity to repent. There would be plenty of time between sentencing and the execution. No one’s saying shoot him down at the moment that sentencing is announced. And no one is guaranteed another day or even another hour to repent.

  • catholic commentator

    Crescat, first let me say I applaud your hope in Gosnell’s repentance and conversion. However, I don’t understand how your thoughts on the death penalty line up with Catholic teaching. Could you explain?

    My understanding is that the death penalty is only acceptable if it is necessary for the safety of others. As Pope JPII says in Evangelium Vitae, the punishment “ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
    See also CCC #2267

    Do you believe that it’s necessary for Gosnell to have received the death penalty?

    I for one am happy his sentence is life in prison. For us to have condemned him to death without enough reason to…in my eyes, that would have been injustice.

  • Steve Robinson

    Kat, Amen. Thanks for this. I got a lot of pushback for my 8 part podcast on pro-death penalty. I cited Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical thought and some of the popular statistical arguments etc. I used to be radical anti-death penalty and over 30 years changed my mind. Gosnell should be executed. Your comments and replies to comments are spot on. Shameless self-promo if you’ll permit: Google Steve the Builder, Death penalty. It is an 8 part series about 12-15 minutes each.


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