A Death Penalty for Kermit Gosnell? How Will We Respond?

We have 7 days to decide how we will respond to the Kermit Gosnell sentencing. If the verdict is death, what will we say? What will we post? What will we blog? There’s a common problem I’ve noticed among some “conservative Catholics.” Statements of the U.S. Bishops are quick to be accepted and promoted if they’re in line with “conservative principles,” but if they’re not (immigration) you can hear the crickets chirp.

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The U.S. Bishops recently lauded the repeal of the death penalty in Maryland, and there’s no shortage of material explaining the Catholic position: 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “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” (CCC, 2267). The test of whether the death penalty can be used is not the gravity of the offense, but
whether it is absolutely necessary to protect society. The Catechism adds that today “the cases in which the execution of
the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non­existent’” (CCC, 2267).

In 2005, the Catholic bishops of the United States issued, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death. In the document the
bishops stated that the gift of life must be respected and protected; “that every life is a precious gift from God (see Gn 2:7,
21-23) and that we are all created in God’s image and redeemed by Jesus Christ, who himself was crucified. They
acknowledged that sentences such as “life in prison without parole” provide non-lethal alternatives and called for an end
to the use of the death penalty in the United States, stating “it is time for our nation to abandon the illusion that we can
protect life by taking life.”

U.S. Bishops, Death Penalty, February 2011 

So thankful for the thoughtful positions of the Church,and thoughtful for the comments from Catholics I’ve already seen on this subject. Kyrie Eleison.


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