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Scottish cardinal blasts US on death penalty, defends release of Lockerbie bomber

Catholic World News - August 09, 2010

A Scottish cardinal has denounced American critics of the early release of a convicted terrorist, and gone on to criticize the US for failing to abolish capital punishment. Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh said that the American justice system reflects “a culture of vengeance.” He went on:

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth-- that is not our culture in Scotland and I would like to think that the US government, and these states that do still have capital punishment, would learn something from us.

The Scottish cardinal was reflecting on the controversy that arose last year with the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted for the Lockerbie bombing that killed 259 people. The terrorist was granted “compassionate release” last August, when a judge was persuaded that he suffered from terminal cancer and would die within a matter of weeks. The bomber, who flew to Libya after his release, remains alive today. Columnist Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph argued that if Cardinal O’Brien hoped to change American public opinion on the death penalty, he was imprudent to take such a controversial tone. Thompson wrote:

Oh, but that’s the point, say the Cardinal’s defenders: the juxtaposition will force Americans to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves. Actually, it will do the opposite. It’s much easier to brush aside questions about the morality of the US death penalty if those questions are asked by a point-scoring foreigner who drags in a deliberately provocative comparison with the judicial murderers of Iran.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 10, 2010 12:20 AM ET USA

    Once the Archbishoip of Canterbury said something offensive about Scotland, now his eminence says something offensive about the US. I find these words of the Cardinal offensive since they show a false sense of mercy. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is responsible for the murder of more than a hundred people and today we know he was not gravely ill as the Scottish government claimed. Is O'Brien knowledgeable enough of our culture to make such accusations? His comments are naive, at best.

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