Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Saddam Hussein

Earlier this month, Catholic News Service (CNS) reported on Vatican reaction to the death penalty imposed on Saddam Hussein.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The head of the Vatican's justice and peace office and an editor of a Vatican-approved Jesuit journal said it would be wrong to carry out the death penalty against Saddam Hussein.

The former Iraqi president was sentenced to death by hanging Nov. 5 in a case involving the deaths of 148 Iraqis in 1982.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said, "For me, to punish a crime with another crime, such as killing out of vengeance, means that we are still at the stage of 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'"

In a Nov. 5 interview with ANSA, the Italian news agency, the cardinal said both Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that modern societies have the means to protect citizens from the threat of a murderer without resorting to execution.

"God has given us life, and only can God take it away," the cardinal said, adding, "the death sentence is not a natural death."

"Life is a gift that the Lord has given us, and we must protect it from conception until natural death," he said.

"Unfortunately," he said, "Iraq is among the few countries that has not yet made the choice of civility by abolishing the death penalty."

If you live in the Albany diocese, you live in one of the few countries that “has not yet made the choice of civility by abolishing the death penalty." In particular, although New York State currently does not have the death penalty, there is talk in the State Legislature of re-imposing it. We will keep you updated on any legislative activity. In the meantime, you can read the rest of the CNS article here.