Thursday, May 9, 2013

Maryland Catholic Conference Errs (Again) With Death Penalty

In today's Catholic Standard, page 3 in print and online here, the Maryland Catholic Conference is beating its chest over its faux-victoire regarding the abolition of the death penalty in Maryland.  I stated my case clearly how the abolition of the death penalty actually runs counter to Church teaching and Evangelium Vitae in particular.  I needn't rehash all that here.

I also stated in that post that there is an effort underway to petition this abolition to the next Maryland referendum.  I signed that petition, no doubt to the consternation of Mary Ellen Russell.  In the Standard article, read that little insert of hers that's designed to cajole faithful Catholics into eschewing the referendum petition.  She talks of the repeal of the death penalty as "an integral part of our pro-life efforts to uphold the sanctity of all human life."  No, it is not!  I'd strongly suggest that she study Evangelium Vitae and notice that there is a world of difference between the inherent evil of taking the most innocent human life - that is, murder and the exercise of legitimate authority a charge laid upon it by God Himself.

She then takes a direct pot-shot at the referendum effort itself, saying "the referendum will only divide the prolife community and drain scarce time and resources from other more important prolife goals".  Well, guess what, Ms Russell?  On both counts here, it's the Maryland Catholic Conference (under your less-than-stellar leadership) that stands guilty as charged!

It is the Maryland Catholic Conference that has divided the pro-life community by mis-equating the death penalty with truly intrinsic evils such as abortion, contraception, and abuse of embryonic children in direct disobedience to Evangelium Vitae.  Actually, I'm not sure the true pro-life community is really all that divided for most of us learned a long time ago that the Maryland Catholic Conference's leadership on pro-life matters has been, at best, sporadic.  We've learned long ago not to wait for the MCC to give guidance for inertia seems to be one of their key guiding principles.

As far as "draining scarce time and resources", there some real damage has been done by the MCC.  Given the vast disparity between the numbers of babies aborted in Maryland versus those criminals executed, how can the MCC justify the disproportionate amount of their resources used to effect the repeal of the death penalty?  Answer - they can't!

Now go back to the Standard article and look at who is getting the photo-ops in a Catholic newspaper.  We all know that O'Malley is a mortal enemy of true morality, having signed the "gay marriage" mess into law as well as shilling for every abortion that he can.  Does anyone also doubt that the stonewalling of the Carhart investigations is being done without his direction?   But notice who is in the center - Mike Miller.  He's been a fixture in the Maryland State Senate for some time.  In 1992, a piece of legislation was rammed through the Maryland Senate, with Miller doing most of the ramming.  It was Senate Bill 162; it was this bill that rendered Maryland one of the most conducive to abortions in the nation, attracting the likes of Leroy Carhart.  And yet these two accomplices to murder wax whimsical about the abolition of the death penalty.  Why?  Read this post - last paragraph, to be precise, for a theory.

Owing to their shameless promotion of baby-murder, both O'Malley and Miller stand in need of the medicinal remedy of Canon 915.  At the very least, they should not be lionized as champions for aiding and abetting in the state's shirking of God-given responsibilities.  But the MCC, along with other tentacles of the "Catholic social-justice" crowd, has shown themselves to be proficient at squandering moral capital by joining hands with those embracing intrinsic immorality.  O'Malley and Miller are not the only ones with whom the MCC saw fit to join.

Russell waxed lyrical about Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.  The latter organization is a coalition to which the MCC belongs.  So what other organizations belong?  Well there's the Quixote Center, who seem to embrace "women's ordination", gender equality, gay rights (code word for perversion of marriage and sexuality), reproductive rights (code for liberalized abortion).  Of course there are some of the usual suspects: Pax Christi, Amnesty International (that is, Amnesty except for unborn babies).

I urge study of Evangelium Vitae.  The responsibility of capital punishment is a solemn one - not one to be taken lightly AND not one to be abdicated by those responsible for civil government.  Ms. Russell is urging all not to sign the petition.  She's entitled to her opinion, but it's merely her opinion.  I on the other hand encourage you to think through the matter and yes, to sign the petition.


  1. CCC 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 offence 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 (68 = John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.69)

    Repeat:"..very rare, if not practically nonexistent" Also, the conditions stipulated in paragraph 2 are certainly met by the US, thereby completely nullifying any argument for the death penalty in that nation. The Church teaching is clear - ALL life is sacred, even that of a murderer.

    1. In your last paragraph, your usage of grammar and vocabulary is very sloppy. Specific words have specific meaning and we need to adhere rigorously to their precise definitions. "Very rare, if not practically nonexistent" does NOT equate to "absolutely non-existent". Those "very rare" cases are real possibilities; for that reason, the Church does not advocate that the state revoke usage of a tool that would be needed to carry out its God-given responsibilities to defend the citizens in its charge. In fact, the Church does not advocate for such abolition of these tools: only some rogue "state conferences" that do not have inherent canonical authority. You yourself acknowledged that "the Church does not exclude resource to the death penalty" in your first paragraph.

      I join you in acknowledging that all life is sacred. However, God has authority over life and it is His prerogative to delegate authority as He wishes. I refer to John 19:10-11. During conversation between Jesus and Pilate, Pilate asks "do you not realize I have power to either free you or crucify you?" Jesus doesn't contradict him. He replies, "you would have no power over to me if it weren't given to you from above." Jesus points out to Pilate (and us) that said power is power delegated to him (and government) from God. I also recommend Romans 13: 3-4.


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