It seems impossible to comprehend why Dylan Roof felt it necessary to gun down nine good Christian people at a Bible study. The fact that he planned the massacre, sat in the Bible study with the folks for half an hour and then opened fire is incomprehensible.
His lack of remorse and cold hearted disregard for his victims and their families is horrible.
He thought they were sub human. He seems sub human. He’s a rat, a cockroach in human form, a demon possessed human horror. Right?
Its hard to avoid the natural revulsion at the worst of human crimes, and in our efforts to understand its not necessarily right to find the usual excuses: he came from a broken home. He didn’t have any friends. etc etc.
But maybe he didn’t have a terrible home life, and if he did, well, others have terrible home lives and rise above it to become wonderful human beings. He says he does not have psychological problems and he is not insane. He knew what he was doing, chose to do it and does not regret what he has done.
So squash the cockroach. Justice is justice. He took life. Take his life.
I’m going to stand this natural human reaction on its head and say he should be spared.
He should be spared because he too, despite his degradation, is created in God’s image. That image is now marred, soiled, wounded and distorted beyond our comprehension, but way down deep he is in the image of God, and we should not snuff out his life.
Why not? Because he still has time. In jail for the rest of his life he has time. He has time to see again the horror he has chosen. He has time to learn how to be sorry for what he has done. He has time to make reparation if that is every possible in this life. He has time to repent. He has time to open his mind and heart to the light.
What about the innocent victims?
This is what was so memorable about the terrible events- that South Carolina — which is vilified for being a deep South racist state– came together in a show of solidarity and support. The people of Charleston both white and black marched together against racism.
Most of all, the sweet Christian people of the AME Church from the very beginning said they forgive Dylan Roof. You can read about it here.
That’s what Christianity brings to the world.
Catholicism is supposed to be subversive. The victims from the AME church are a shining witness. The mostly Christian people of Charleston are a shining witness.
They forgave Dylan Roof, and as Catholics we stand with them for the possibility of forgiveness even in the face of the most terrible crimes.
Thats why we’re against the death penalty–even for Dylan Roof.
Image Creative Commons via Bing