Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Bishop DiMarzio on capital punishment

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn addresses the issue of the death penalty in the most recent issue of The Tablet, the diocesan newspaper. He writes:
The death penalty and its use will become in our own state an issue about which we must be educated. The Church has always taught that the right of self defense is both an individual right and a societal right. Society has a right to defend itself against aggressors, both externally by means of war as a last resort, and internally by those who are murders, serial killers, terrorists and those guilty of treason. The question for us as Catholics is not whether the death penalty is morally acceptable, but rather whether it should be imposed today.

. . .

The Church always must opt for the conversion of sinners, and prisons, once named penitentiaries, are places where people can do penance and change their lives. There is no better example of this than the case of the murderer of St. Maria Goretti, a teenage girl who resisted rape and was murdered by Alessandro Serenelli.Imprisoned for 30 years, he was truly converted during that time. He became a lay brother with the Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins, and attended the canonization of St. Maria Goretti. There are other extraordinary cases of conversion. If the Church must be consistent regarding the value of life from the very conception to a natural death, the use of the death penalty is something that the Church should be against in our own day and age.

. . .

Whenever the Church enters into the public policy field with moral teaching, she puts out into the deep and risks misunderstanding and even alienation from some Catholics. Our consistent teaching about life brings us to the firm conclusion that all life should be defended and that the use of the death penalty in our own day and age is not necessary.
The rest of this important column is here.

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