Let Us Stop Making Excuses For Everybody
After my post on the death penalty yesterday, I received a message from a reader, Noahvail, asking several questions.
It seems fitting to use the message to repeat some points that have been mainstays of Catholic thinking, and are clearly counter cultural in today’s climate. I will assume that Noahvail is not trolling me and is merely, like so many nowadays, extremely confused.
“Is it conceivable that the “executive director” has taken it upon himself alone, to write, in his ‘official capacity,’ for the commutation of the sentence?”
Obviously not. Whilst the arguments made by the man are un-Catholic, we should not be surprised at Bishops being un-Catholic. Actually, nowadays I rather expect it every time a microphone or journalist pad is in sight. The letter was not corrected or reneged by the Bishops. It is simply not realistic to think that they do not agree with it. It is obvious that they answer for it, as he speaks on their behalf in his position as Executive Director for them.
“As Catholics don’t we hope for the conversion and salvation, in life, of every soul?”
Of course we do. We hope that the soul converts. This cannot happen after death. Therefore, it has to happen in life. Life ends with the execution. The soul knows that the end of life is about to happen. This certainly focuses the mind. See the next point.
“The death penalty does put kind of a foreshortening , a closure of the window of choice for the sinner. Does it not?”
No, it doesn’t. The contrary is the case. When the sinner knows that the day of reckoning is coming, this helps him greatly to make his peace with the Lord.
If you know that you only have time until the 15 April to make your income tax declaration, the approaching of the date is not, for you, “a closure of the window of choice”. It is a forceful reminder that you have to act fast, because there isn’t much time left. The same goes for every deadline: enrolling children to school, etc.
Knowing that his life is about to end should be seen by every convict as a great blessing. This is a grace not given to many other people; they die suddenly, and who knows whether they have made peace with the Lord or not. To know that the end is approaching allows a person (the ill man, or the criminal) to make every effort to die with his soul in the state of grace. This is the greatest gift that God can give to a soul beside the gift (which is supposed to come immediately thereafter, and because of it) of final repentance. Conversely, a man who, knowing that death is approaching, refuse to make his peace with the Lord, is clearly showing his total refusal of Christ. In this case, too, he has willed his own fate.
Eternity is infinite. Life on earth is not. Therefore, eternity is infinitely more important than the duration of the life on earth. The gift of approaching infinity with the right frame of mind, and – with God’s grace – of acting accordingly, is the greatest one.
Is not life imprisoned more of a punishment than a death penalty?
Very likely. But we are not a bunch of sadists. We are Catholics. We do not seek the maximum suffering for a criminal. We seek the reestablishment of justice. If this reasoning were sound, it would actually call for the torture of those who have tortured, etc. It does not work that way.
The execution reestablishes the order of justice. This suffices. It’s not about making people suffer.
That is the only argument I can imagine a Catholic to make. Allow the miscreant the opportunity for repentance.
The argument is no argument. If the miscreant does not see a “deadline” approaching, it will happen to him the same that happens to everybody with their taxes: there is still time! How many, in and out of jail, postpone their repentance until it is too late! Again, it is the greatest blessing to know that the time for repentance has come.
But then the “executive director” may not even be a Catholic, but rather simply catholic in his beliefs.
This is something I had not even thought about. In fact, in the times we are living you cannot even be sure that the guy is, in fact, a Catholic. Still, this does not change the matter. He speaks for the Bishops, the Bishops answer for what he says.
Summa summarum, it is fair to say this: we need, as Catholics, to stop making excuses for wrong behaviour. A Bishop who does not defend Catholic teaching is a bad Bishop and, in fact, he is unworthy to be one. A murderer needs to be treated accordingly, without strange appeals to “science”. We need to stop thinking that the behaviour we see in front of your eyes might be due to, say, the Bishops just not being informed of what is done.
It is time to look at things as they are and speak accordingly.
No reasonable person applies the “difficult childhood”, or the science” argument, or the “perhaps he didn’t know” argument, to Hitler. Reality is clear enough, without any need for signed documents.
Please let us apply the same elementary common sense to our lives as Catholics.