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Catholic Culture Resources

in cold blood

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Apr 11, 2008

Responding to a long series of killings by two rival families involved in the Irish drug trade, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick has come out squarely in opposition to murder and mayhem:

To kill another human being in cold blood and to regard that deed as something acceptable is a denial of the dignity not just of the victim but of the perpetrator.

True, no doubt. But mankind has agreed for centuries that murder is a crime of singular gravity. What do the bishop's words add to that understanding? Nothing. On the contrary. The banality of the sentence diminishes the force of the condemnation, making murder sound like on of many possible violations of human rights. Consider:

To use racial epithets to regard that sort of language as something acceptable is a denial of the dignity not just of the victim but of the perpetrator.

Also true, right? The use of racial epithets is wrong. But cold-blooded murder is worse, and so we ordinarily condemn it in much stronger terms.

So what might Bishop Murray have said, to accentuate (rather than soften) the tone of moral outrage? He might have observed that unrepentant murderers go to Hell.

You see, an earnest secularist can tell us when we're jeopardizing our dignity. The job of a bishop is to warn us when we're jeopardizing our souls.

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