Tomorrow, We Are Going to Vengefully Slaughter…

Tomorrow, We Are Going to Vengefully Slaughter… March 18, 2014

this man. Because our barbaric legal system, on par with such enlightened societies as Saudi Arabia, Red China, Iraq, and North Korea demands it.

The weirdness of a Christianity that says to the penitent sinner “Off with his head” is breathtaking. Equally weird is the mercilessness that says, “But how do we know he is *really* penitent? Better kill him just to be safe.”

Abolish the death penalty.

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  • Heather

    That man’s letter was heart-rending. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Irksome1

    Why must this be vengeance? Couldn’t this be just retribution? How do you distinguish?

    • Retribution” originally meant paying back what was taken. Today, we usually use “restitution” to mean that repayment, and use “retribution” as a synonym for vengeance.

      Execution does not repay anyone anything that was taken from them. Rather, it does to a person the harm that (presumably) they did to another. It does not actually effect justice. It is, at best, a defensive measure against someone who must be stopped from doing ongoing harm to the community.

  • ivan_the_mad

    I heard a homily recently about forgiveness, in which the priest pointed out rather obviously that on our deathbeds we’ll likely not be praying “Give me what I deserve, O Lord, a sinner”, but rather “Have mercy on me, O Lord, a sinner”.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. — Matthew 5:7.

  • Dave G.

    What happened to my post?

  • CJ

    I agree with his points about corporate prison profiteering and long sentences for non-violent crimes.
    On the other hand, I don’t see the injustice in long sentences for a modern highwayman who shoves a gun up someone’s nose and says “your money or your life.” That’s an act of violence whether you pull the trigger or not. And yes, I do believe that execution is a just punishment for murder and am unmoved by comparisons to evil regimes and claims of barbarity.
    Nevertheless, I do support the abolition of the death penalty because of the possibility of executing an innocent person. That reason alone trumps every other possible consideration.

  • bear

    I am grateful that my country abolished the death penalty long ago. The debate has been reopened from time to time, but the penalty has never been re-instated.

    It is a difficult, visceral issue. We have our monsters, people like Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo, Picton, and when you hear their stories it is hard not to think it would be fitting and just to not merely kill them, but to exterminate them in the most sadistic, vindictive way possible. If theirs were the only cases, most people would want the death penalty and celebrate each execution. But we also know other stories, Guy Paul Morin, Donald Marshall, David Milgard and others who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to long terms. Had we still the death penalty, there is a strong likelihood that these men would have been executed. And we would lkely have cheered for their deaths, for the crimes for which they were convicted were indeed hideous.

    Whenever the question of the death penalty crops up, we hear the first names and a few others like them come up. And it is hard, so very hard, to argue that they don’t deserve death. But I remember the words of Gandalf, and I remember the other names. No justice system is ever perfect. Human error creeps in through accident and sometimes not so accidental means. Having the death penalty means that occasionally an innocent will be legally murdered for crimes they never committed, and their blood would be on the hands of the whole nation. We are better off without it.

    • Careless application of the death penalty is a horror. All Catholics should fight it. Its just application is a rarity.

      This prisoner’s incompetence in his attempt to murder was made up by his foresight to bring along two more competent murderers who he enticed to do the crime for a share in the proceeds of the recording studio theft. In his last communication, he is still attempting to gain sympathy and minimize his culpability. This particular application does not worry me. He admitted his role.

      • Heather

        Should not this particular application worry you in that a sinner’s life is being cut short when perhaps given longer to reflect he might come to a more complete repentance?
        Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all.

        • You’re moving the goal posts. Reread my first sentence and then reread the last two to understand what I was referring to.

          I am not worried that this is a careless application of the death penalty, that this man did not do the crime for which he is being executed. He admitted his role in the death but doesn’t think it fair that unless his own blow was the cause of death that he be subject to the death penalty.

          That you slicing somebody’s throat was pre-empted by somebody else stabbing the same man fatally does not get you off the hook for capital murder.

          The particular circumstances of this crime were unusually depraved. Do you have any sort of analysis of whether or not this man remains a threat to safety and lives of others?

        • AquinasMan

          The problem is, the “what if” argument works the other way, too: What if the convicted criminal were not facing imminent death, went about facing a life sentence with typical stoicism, or worse, descending further into evil among the general population, and died suddenly at the hands of another prisoner over some infraction or other? Although I am generally against the death penalty, it’s fairly compelling to consider that a person who knows the day and time of his/her death has a distinct opportunity to contemplate eternity above all other things as that time approaches, and often with direct assistance of a cleric, spiritual advisor, priest, etc.

          Yet, the penalty is not fairly applied (money and celebrity come to mind as a protected class), and in some cases, applied to the more-or-less innocent. And yes, society can be reasonably protected from the inmate population. But there is still a paradox at work here, where the condemned may enjoy the accidental benefit of anxiety to focus the mind on the hereafter, whereas the “lifer” may not give it a second thought before being dispatched by his cellmate…

          Still… in principle, at its core, it does not seem justified.

  • margaret1910

    I believe that the death penalty should be abolished in all cases where we can guarantee the safety of society without it. Which means, pretty much always.

    That said, this man does not seem remorseful in the least. His argument that he did not actually “murder” David Alejandro even though he struck the first blow, slitting David’s throat, is self-serving BS.

    I recommend reading the letter from the brother of the victim as well as that of Ray Jasper.

    I still do not think that Mr. Jasper is a continuing threat from inside the prison. I do not think that he should be put to death.

    • Evan

      I agree. I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but Ray Jasper doesn’t strike me as repentant at all. He acknowledges many important truths about the dignity of all persons as well as the flaws in our “justice” system, but he very conveniently ignores or glosses over details of his crime, absolving himself of responsibility. However, he still deserves to be treated with dignity and mercy, and the state should not take his life.

      • Jared Clark

        On the other hand, he applied the “I was the chief among sinners” verse to himself. Though he doesn’t recognize that his sin was murder, it doesn’t look like he’s totally without penitence either.

    • Thank you for the link. It is the other side of the story that must be included before any judgment is rendered.

    • PalaceGuard

      I agree. Also, there are comments here concerning whether or not he is truly repentant. He may not be now. However, there is no repentance after death. I would not want a single soul lost to the Enemy, when we can give the living time to reflect and truly repent.

  • I’ll confess, the death penalty is an area of the faith with which I struggle (though mostly I just don’t think about it). Even putting aside what St. Paul writes about it in Romans 13, how could something that was a perfectly legitimate penal measure for 15 centuries of the Church’s history suddenly constitute a grave evil?

    • Andy

      Teaching changes as we come to understand human nature and how to work with it. At one time the death penalty may have seemed to be the obvious choice to protect others from the crime being committed again by the same person. It also may have seemed to serve as a deterrent, but as we learn more we change.
      This change does not affect the essentials of our faith.

      • CJ

        I wonder (really, I don’t know) if the reasoning in favor of the death penalty ever really depended on what was necessary to protect society, or if was simply thought to be just. I mean, “eye for an eye” doesn’t protect anybody it’s just vengeance that’s proportional to the crime. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “no longer necessary to protect society” reasoning is a post hoc justification papered over an acceptance of the modern “enlightened” view of the death penalty.

        • Andy

          I would hope not vengeance, as only God has the right to inflict vengeance. I do not know a history of the death penalty as I have never supported it – I find that the death penalty for me and me alone, seems to fly in the face of how I see being pro-life. But as I understand the Catholic Church has never demanded the death penalty, it never taught that the death penalty was required. Aquinas I think saw the role of the government to protect the commons and that the death penalty should be sued only as part of that function. My comment is based on JPII 1995 encyclical .

        • Actually an eye for an eye prevents escalating revenge spirals like the Hatfields and the McCoys which, I believe, started over an argument about a pig and ended with over 30 deaths. Limitations on revenge are protective, in my opinion.

        • Jared Clark

          “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.”

          That is from St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa Contra Gentiles”, book 3 chapter 146.

          It seems that the angelic doctor supported the death penalty due to the circumstances of his time: not killing dangerous men was dangerous. Today, we can safely imprison them instead. This protects the common good while offering the possibility of repenting their sin, protecting the falsely-imprisoned innocent, and still giving the criminals a just punishment.

      • Yes, teaching changes, though there is no guarantee that the new teaching is a better idea than the old teaching if both are within the permissible orbit of our faith. We had a false start on changed teaching with sexual predators and the Church bitterly regrets it. Is the changed teaching on the death penalty a durable improvement or another false start?

        • Andy

          For me and me alone I think it is an improvement – I base this on our greater understanding of people and the like. I would not and do not feel that people may agree. My comment was more about how teaching changes.

          • I am not arguing that your opinion is wrong or right. I am arguing for verification and vigilance to ensure that we are not arguing for a theological position based on facts that are false. We should not take the papal statement about the effectiveness of modern penology in the world today on faith. It’s exactly the sort of thing where you check to see.

            • Andy

              I wasn’t thinking that you were making a judgement – I agree with verification, but without testing the papal pronouncement we do not know of its effectiveness. Off to class where we are talking about all things – Just War Theory.

        • kenofken

          The Church’s disastrous position on sexual predators was not a teaching as much as a cynical self-serving policy of a toxic leadership culture. Only the earliest seeds of the abuse crisis can be blamed on a good-faith mistaken belief in outdated psychological science. The true horror and scope of the crisis lay in the deliberate shielding of men who had offended time and time again. The abuse continues apace even today, many years after leaders could claim plausible belief in the easy curability of sexual predators. Bishops of the last couple of decades were under no illusion on this point. Most of them acknowledged the true nature of the problem in written policies and statements, but simply chose to ignore them when it suited them.

          • Sorry, I can’t agree with your post. What you describe is certainly what policy became over time but the start of the mess, before all the coverups, was based on following the best psychology available at the time which asserted that rehabilitation was possible and that traditional responses were outdated and cruel. This advice was a crock.

            So I view it as a two part problem, the issue of following bad secular advice and the issue of covering up the results of following bad secular advice. We concentrate today on the latter and that’s largely justified but we should not completely ignore the former.

            I believe that the Church is receiving advice, once again, that may be a crock. It’s plausible advice but so was the idea that pedophiles could be rehabilitated. The appropriate policy is to watch carefully and test for a long period of time. What is the crime rate of lifetime incarcerated murderers vs their peers in prison? So far as I know nobody’s tracking statistics that finely. The high level of security personnel in prison has reduced the crime rate to below that of the outside free society. But what is the appropriate standard that justifies invalidating the death penalty? How many times do murderers have to commit crimes before the logic of the Church’s position changes policy? How do mass amnesties such as the one that Saddam issued right before the Iraq invasion change the picture? Answering these and other questions are part of an appropriate anti-death penalty response. I don’t see any evidence that the Church has invested in penology to do its job answering these related questions re the death penalty policy change.

          • SteveP

            Cognitive dissonance is strong with this one who repairs to the fainting couch when Russia outlaws the sexual propagandization of youth yet climbs on the stump to spin a critical tale of bishops enabling priests to introduce youth to that most sacred of secular actions: male-on-male faux-copulation.

            I can see why you have sought unbaptism: not bearing false witness is quite the burden to you.

    • Dan13

      I look at it from a pragmatic standpoint. In most of the church’s history, poor people often starved to death. If good, honest people are starving to death, it would unjust to spend limited resources to house, guard, and feed criminals. However, in modern nations, we have the resources to house, guard, and feed dangerous criminals and can lend them the opportunity for rehabilitation.

      • You really need to take a look at the whole system of justice to verify that this is true. I recall hearing people making the political argument that we are shorting honest aid to the poor and unjustly shifting that to running prisons. If that is true, then by your argument you should be in favor of not only the death penalty but limiting appeals to have it operate more inexpensively and quickly.

        • Dan13

          If that is true, I’d be in favor of either: (1) increasing taxes or (2) shifting money from other programs, such as the military or NASA (outside of certain satellites, is there really a practical point to space exploration?).

          If we truly lived in an extremely poor nation, then I would be in favor the death penalty–which I believe is the logic behind the “loophole” contained in the Catechism.

          • Actually, there are plenty of practical points to space exploration that I’d be happy to talk about elsewhere. It’s not germane to this discussion.

            The balancing test of it being safe enough to stop using the death penalty really needs to be fleshed out. How safe is safe enough. What’s the level of risk that is ok to impose on jailers?

            I’m not really sure that the isolation induced insanity that is produced by Supermax facilities is any more admissible as a punishment than the death penalty.

            It’s not an easy area to construct a truly Catholic solution.

            • Dan13

              “The balancing test of it being safe enough to stop using the death penalty really needs to be fleshed out. How safe is safe enough. What’s the level of risk that is ok to impose on jailers?”

              There’s also the risk to other inmates. And I’d say that the Supermax isolation is tantamount to torture. If it is truly impossible to safely house certain criminals without resorting to unethical means, then it does rework the discussion. And if so, what would be the litmus test? Execution of those who commit murder in prison?

              • Fortunately, this isn’t my professional responsibility. I just can spot a glib and shallow analysis without a lot of work.

        • wineinthewater

          Generally, execution actually costs more than housing inmates for the rest of their lives. The costs from appeals, death row imprisonment,execution infrastructure, etc. pile up quickly.

          And despite the fact that we spend more on it, our system still gets it wrong a shocking amount of times.

          • In this particular case, the financials are roughly a wash. My understanding is that he’s been on death row for 14 years and that you’d have to imprison him two years for every year on death row to break even. He’s 33 and blacks live longer in prison (strange but true). It’s a prety good shot that he’d have survived another 28 years or even more.

            I don’t think that the financials being neutral to slightly positive in favor of the death penalty should be very influential in the decision to execute. I think that when the financials go the other way it should have just as little influence.

            • wineinthewater

              I don’t think the financials are a good basis either. My only point in bringing it up is that there is a persistent myth on the pro-death penalty side that executing a person is cheaper and that is an argument in favor of it.

              • There is a financial story to be examined on both sides. Is there an obligation of the state to provide unlimited funds to incarcerate for life? Are the funds available providing the necessary safety for those around the prisoner sufficient that the anti-death penalty assumption, that we are rich enough and know enough to responsibly do life in prison as an alternative to the death penalty?

                On the other side, is responsible review prior to execution so expensive that it would be better to imprison for life?

                • wineinthewater

                  Financial considerations do have place, they are a part of ensuring the common good. I just don’t think that they should be the primary consideration or that false assumptions about them should be a part of the considerations.

        • kenofken

          Even if we just dragged every death row inmate out of bed at sunrise tommorow and shot them in the yard, or the minute their sentence is handed down, that would’t begin to impact the cost of incarceration in this country.

          We have just over 3,000 condemned prisoners in this country, all told. We have nearly 2.3 million people in prison and another 5 million or so who on parole or probation – community housed prisoners, in effect. Our prison costs are hurting budgets not because we coddle our worst killers but because we have constructed an entire economic center around incarcerating as many Americans as possible for as long as possible for as little reason as possible.

          One way or another, we lock up roughly 3% of the population of our country, a feat that has never been equaled even by the world’s most arbitrary and authoritarian regimes. In order to feed this massive system of powerful correctional unions and corporate prison contractors, we enact laws and policies which seek to lock up essentially all poor dark-skinned men, anyone else who might be “surplus labor” and all but the wealthiest mentally ill. It works to keep them there for most, if not all, of their productive working lives and in doing so bans them from ever earning a legitimate living wage, and then sticks the rest of us with the staggering costs resulting from them. It is the most expensive and most counterproductive welfare system in the world.

          The death penalty is a very marginal cost center in that system, and executing someone, with even a modicum of due process, won’t save us a cent. It also cost us more in moral legitimacy than anything it could ever produce in hard dollars.

          • My theme on this thread has been a consistent message to verify your facts because people are using emotions to cover for made up data.

            I think that we have too many felonies in the US. We’re at the point where it’s exceeded any reasonable bound.

    • Heather

      Well, for one thing, historical longevity and widespread social acceptance isn’t enough by itself to make something not evil. (Take slavery for example.)

      For another, the death penalty in and of itself isn’t evil, and the Church admits this. If it’s really the only way to keep society safe from an unjust aggressor, it can be an unfortunate necessity. However, you can’t make that argument in this day and age at our level of technology and infrastructure. Dangerous offenders can be kept from society by non-lethal means, just as they are in the huge majority of developed countries (and US states) that do not execute their criminals. Killing someone is not always wrong, but killing someone when you have a reasonable option NOT to is.

      Ideally, the focus should be on real and lasting rehabilitation whenever possible, and when not possible, at least giving the offender the rest of their life in the hopes that they will at last come to a point of actual repentence.

      • Billy Bagbom

        You have some good points. But consider: “To say that by hanging a man we presumptuously judge him to be irredeemable is, I submit, simply untrue…. The real question is whether a murderer is more likely to repent and make a good end three weeks hence in the execution shed or, say, thirty years later in the prison infirmary. No mortal can know…. Only the concept of desert connects punishment with morality at all. If deterrence is all that matters, the execution of an innocent man, provided the public think him guilty, would be fully justified. If reformation alone is in question, then there is nothing against painful and compulsory reform for all our defects, and a Government which believes Christianity to be a neurosis will have a perfectly good right to hand us all over their straighteners for ‘cure’ tomorrow” (C. S. Lewis).

    • Jared Clark

      Some things, like execution, are not intrinsically evil, but can be evil based on circumstances and intent. If a society can safely imprison a criminal, then it cannot justly execute him.

    • said she

      During the flourishing of Christendom in Europe, the death penalty was a mercy: the guily man was given ample opportunity to have his confession heard – and the impending execution gave him the “inspiration” to avail himself of that sacrament. (Priests would walk with the condemned man to the gallows, if necessary, to convince him to repent.) It was also a mercy for everyone, as the dangerous were weeded out, thus protecting the community.

      Today, it’s a completely different story. Most on death row don’t know when/if they will be executed, and few know that there is a possibility for Divine forgiveness.

      “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” – Ezekiel 33:11

    • Athelstane

      Because it’s not evil in principle, as the Catechism clearly reaffirms.

      What has changed are the circumstances, that now make its application likely to partake of other evils in most of the modern world. Those circumstances could, of course, change.

  • etme

    this pithy statement caught my eye
    “capitalism, where money comes before empathy”

  • There seems to be an implication that this person, Ray Jasper, is a penitent sinner. Am I misreading Mark Shea or is that the case? If that is the case, where, in this long sociopolitical letter, is that penitence, that act of contrition? Because if my eyes glazed over and passed by it, I want to know.

    • D.T. McCameron

      I’ve looked as well. Far be it from me to deny anyone their final bloviations; the murderer did raise some valid concerns.

      But surely one’s last words to the world ought to be to caution against following such a destructive path, to express remorse over the crime, and sorrow for the surviving family?

      • Marthe Lépine

        Maybe you have read some of the letter, but you have missed some of the explanations given elsewhere. This man did NOT commit murder; he did not kill anyone. An accomplice in the robbery did kill someone, and pleaded guilty for it, and only got a prison sentence. But at the time of the murder, one or more other people, including this particular prisoner, happened to steal some money, about $500 if I read correctly. And the law in Texas says something like if there is a theft associated with the murder, he person(s0 guilty of that theft are condemned to die, while the person who actually committed the murder while his accomplices did the thieving did not deserve the death penalty. To me it does not make sense, and it is far from being justice. So, please stop claiming that this “murderer” who never killed anybody deserves to be killed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.If he had stolen the same amount of money, or more, from a convenience store while using a weapon as a threat and not shooting anyone, he would not receive the death penalty.

        • Heather

          Marthe, if you look at some of the other facts surrounding the case other than the letter, the reason this man insists that he is not in fact a murderer and did not in fact kill the victim was that technically speaking the cause of death was determined to be the stab wounds inflicted by his accomplices when the victim started fighting back, rather than the cut throat that he inflicted first.

          There was no doubt that he intended and attempted to murder the victim, and would have been successful, it just so happens that someone else finished him off first. The man is guilty as heck and definitely belongs in jail.

          It still doesn’t make it right to kill him, and it doesn’t mean that a lot of what he says isn’t valid.

        • margaret1910

          Marthe, Ummm..he did not “happen to steal some money”. He slit David Andujar’s throat. He was not at the wrong place at the wrong time. He planned to murder this man to steal recording equipment.

          I am not saying he should be put to death, but he was not just a thief. He is a murderer.

        • margaret1910

          I posted this link below, but am repeating it here. Strongly recommend reading it.

          I think we can spare some sympathy and prayers for the Alejandro family, even if we oppose the death penalty.

  • Balin

    If killing an innocent person is unjust and our justice system is known for doing that, if we cannot deal life to the dead we ought not be dealing death to the living.

  • Billy Bagbom

    Well, Mark, I owe a lot to you. You are not someone with whom I easily disagree, and on the rare occasions I find myself unable to sign on with you, I always doubt myself. The death penalty issue is no exception. But there are many fine Catholic voices who disagree with your position (Jay Budziszewski, for example) with whom I am equally reticent to part company. In the end, unless and until the magisterium definitively settles the issue, we must agree to disagree.

    • sez

      But the Magisterium _has_ settled it, as much as it is possible to settle something that A) is a prudential matter, and B) cannot ever be a one-size-fits-all decision. We are clearly under the most basic law: the sanctity of life, so we are to act in favor of life whenever possible. Consider that some societies truly can’t protect themselves from a dangerous criminal. But most can. The magisterium must lay the guidelines for all societies, and they have done that – as definitively as humanly and magisterially possible.

  • Dave G.

    OK, well, my comment never came back from the ether. So let me try again, but with less flare than my pre-coffee comment this morning. First, the post itself. Please, stop with the whole ‘if you’re into the death penalty, then you’re like ‘those countries.’ Even readers who are passionately against the death penalty have said it’s a bad, weak argument. It does no good.

    Second, the wording. Vengefully? Slaughter? Do we realize how that makes the Church look for supporting the Death penalty up until the last generation or so? Is the Death Penalty always that? If not, do we know it is now? Is that what supporters are saying? It reminds me of a Today show series, Where in the World is Matt Lauer. They were in Turkey. And during the show, they had some segments about history. I noticed whenever the Christians were talked about, it was always ‘conquered, destroyed, massacred.’ When the Muslims were talked about, they ‘moved in, changed, took over.’ Use of such words speaks to the choir, and few others.

    Next, the issue itself. It’s actually worthy of some serious debate. After all, it’s been Church teaching for the bulk of the Church’s history. And let’s face it, the reason it’s given for suddenly being able to abolish the death penalty does raise an eyebrow. The state’s ability to prevent crime? What’s it even mean? Crime is worse now than a hundred years ago when most Church leaders were open in their stance on the Church’s traditional teaching. What does it mean? Crime rates in some European countries have begun to tick up. Let’s not even discuss Mexico (abolished death penalty some years ago). In my corner of the country, in the last two years, we’ve had two inmates killed inside prison by other inmates, and one innocent man leaving a convenience store killed by two escaped inmates making their way across the Midwest. Tell their families the state can prevent crime.

    And if that isn’t a valid reason, why do it now? It’s not like everyone who is against the death penalty is Mr. Life Is Sacred Pro-Life child of the Holy Catholic Church. Look at the teachings and views of various religious teachers and leaders. Not all of them stand on that old time religion. We won’t even discuss those outside of various religious traditions. So there are a lot of things to discuss. Maybe actually acting as if that is what we want to do could lead to some good discussions, though the comments I’ve read on this post have been, for the most part, pretty insightful. Got to go now. Dinner is waiting.

    • chezami

      Do we realize how that makes the Church look for supporting the Death penalty up until the last generation or so?

      Yes. It makes it look like the Church was evaluating its Tradition and coming to the conclusion that unless there is a profound need to protect the community that demands it, we should not take even guilty human life.

      It also make you look like you are ignoring this clear and obvious developed teaching of the Magisterium. Instead making appeals for killing, why not make appeals for more secure prisons? Why the minimalist approach to the obvious teaching of the Church?

      • Dave G.

        First, there is no reason to imagine people don’t want more secure prisons, no matter where they stand on the issue.

        Second, I’m not ignoring it. Far from it. I’m paying close attention to it. Which is why I keep going back to the same point. Those pushing for the change in teaching at this time have pointed to the State’s ability to prevent crime without capital punishment. But that hasn’t been demonstrated. In fact, some could argue just the opposite.

        Now the teaching that the death penalty should only be used to protect the community is not the teaching that the death penalty should once and for all be abolished. Those are two different teachings. The first? No problem. That’s what I accepted when I came into the Church. It dealt with some of the nagging issues I had as one who simply opposed the death penalty outright. As long as the Church teaches that, I’m fine.

        But if the Church says we abolish the death penalty altogether, then we need to ask questions. And if it says we can abolish it at this point in history because of the state’s ability to prevent crime and render criminals incapable of doing harm in the wake of those cases I mentioned (and no doubt others), I’m not just going to roll over and say ‘OK, sounds good to me!’

        Remember, as has been pointed out, this is still a teaching of the Church open to discussion. For even better questions than I’m able to muster BTW, read some of TMLutas’s comments below. Fair questions all.

        • chezami

          Nobody is “pushing” for a change in teaching. The development of the Church’s teaching here is a done deal, reflected both in Evangelium Vitae and the Catechism. The past three popes have made is clear that the death penalty should be abolished. They are not lobbyists. They are the Church’s teachers. It is you and people like you who are pushing *against* the Church’s teaching.

          • Dave G.

            You’re saying what I know. Explain what I’m bothered by. All of this is true. The past three popes have pushed to end it. I’m not sure about done deal yet, but it seems to be going that way. But when you look at the reasoning behind the timing of the change, it is suspect.

            Because of our new found understanding of the preciousness of life, we can no longer…

            Because of advances in scientific knowledge of the human person, we can no longer….

            Because we realize now that the vastness of the State and multiple failures in its ability to dispense justice, we can no longer…

            But because of the State’s ability to prevent crime and render the criminal incapable of doing harm? What does it mean? You tell me. Exactly. It’s now. How is the state doing any better (stats please) than it was sixty or a hundred years ago when Popes (that would be those teachers of the Church) were in fact defending the death penalty and its use? To quote the movie, show me the money. How exactly does that statement work? In light of stats. In light of those three cases and countless others. No deflecting by saying ‘you should want more secure prisons.’ In fact, if the Church is right, no I shouldn’t. They should already be secure, hence the reason we can now abolish the death penalty. The Church isn’t always right because it finally agrees with what I always thought in the first place. The Church is right when it says things that are right. So explain what that means, and why it is right – now – to say it.

          • Dave G.

            Oh, and I never said there are lobbyists. I said people may well wonder why and what are the reasons for this change, when the main reason given for the timing seems suspect.

    • sez

      Should the state’s occasional failure to keep the bad guys locked up be the basis for such a huge moral decision?? Doctors sometimes fail to save patients. Teachers sometimes fail to teach. And let’s not mention our weathermen’s track record. Human failure is not a surprise in a fallen world. But it is no basis for a moral decision! Do we not teach our children to abstain??

      Shouldn’t we pressure our civil authorities to do a better job of keeping the bad guys locked up? Because, you know, even those who aren’t on death row sometimes escape or harm others behind bars. So, prompt executions of those on death row won’t keep every other criminal behind bars for the duration of his sentence, nor will it have much effect on violence among the prisoners.

      Your final argument is a type of genetic fallacy: Just because some people who oppose the death penalty simultaneously support some other evil, that doesn’t automatically disqualify their death penalty position. We must look at the reasoning, not the unrelated opinions of the reasoner. An example: a group of atheists showed up at the March for Life, fully and proudly supporting the lives of the unborn. Do you reject their stance on the abortion issue just because they don’t agree with us about God? Of course not! For the very same reason: don’t decide on the death penalty based on tribal loyalties, but on the moral issue alone.

      • Dave G.

        If the state can’t always protect the innocent, then perhaps the Church shouldn’t base the timing of its rather recent decision to change centuries of consistent teaching on the State’s sudden ability to prevent crime.

        And nobody is saying we shouldn’t pressure our authorities to do a better job. Who’s saying we shouldn’t? I’d love a situation where the state could prevent crime. Not only would it keep the innocent inside and outside prisons safe, but it would also add teeth to the statement that now because of the State’s ability to prevent crime, we can finally do away with the death penalty.

        As for the fallacy. I’m not saying that to reject the death penalty means you have to accept the reason others reject it. I’m saying that when your main reason for the timing of the change is suspect, it’s logical to see why people might question the timing and what other thoughts are buzzing about in the minds of those calling for the changes. .

  • margaret1910

    The execution is complete (according to May God have mercy on Ray Jasper’s soul, and on the soul of his victim, David Alejandro. May He grant peace and comfort to both of the families.

  • olive oyl