Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Pope, Richard Speck and the death penalty
Last month the president of the Philippines visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. She gave him a copy of a law she signed recently, one that ends the death penalty in her country. "Well done," His Holiness told her.
I was thinking of that this week as we mark 40 years since Richard Speck's wanton slaughter of eight student nurses. I realize that a blanket opposition to the death penalty is not official Catholic teaching. Indeed, only two years ago as a cardinal the current Pope wrote:
"While the Church exhorts civil authorities... to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible ... to have recourse to capital punishment."
Yet I know Catholics who think their Church requires them to oppose the ultimate sentence. In one recent poll, slightly less than half the Catholics surveyed now support the death penalty....................................
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