death penalty and double standards

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Dec 31, 2006

We are still amid sorrow and prayer over the execution of Saddam Hussein. But we cannot fail to denounce the hypocrisy of the many champions against the death penalty that the former Iraqi dictator managed to gather around him before and after his hanging.

That's the start of an excellent editorial commentary by Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of the AsiaNews service. He observes that "tears are falling from one eye" of ideologues who ordinarily have no special interest in objective moral standards.

Well worth reading.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 03, 2007 12:39 AM ET USA

    While the death penalty may not be condemned in its entirety, enacting the death penalty becomes circumstantial. The death penalty is not to be enacted when other means of detaining a criminal are evident I.E secure jails. Human life is to be respected above ALL else, without the dignity of the life of the human being, we have nothing. To take the life of someone when it is not necessary is murder. Even in the case of self defence, the desired effect is ones safety, not the others death.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 02, 2007 1:33 PM ET USA

    Oh, if only we had so vigorously protested the killing of the Kurds, or the Somalis, or the Bosnians, or the Rwandans, or the Cambodians, or the Jews, or the Chinese, the list goes on. It seems we are able to scream loudly when the genocide is over to protect the murderers but only grumble while the victims pile up.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 02, 2007 1:23 PM ET USA

    Nowhere in the Bible or Tradition does it say that Jesus' execution was unlawful. The Church has always held that the state has the right to execute criminals - EVEN IF THEY DO SO IN ERROR. You can make the moral argument (as my wife does) that they are no longer needed in "modern society" but not that they are "immoral." Executions fall under the "render unto cesar" rule. Argue that it is unnecessary but don't say it violates Infallable Church teachings. It does not.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 02, 2007 10:40 AM ET USA

    There is a moral difference between the deliberate murder of the innocent unborn and the execution of a heinous criminal. With that being said, I don't like either one! But we delude ourselves when we construe abortion and the death penalty to be morally equivalent. I do not cry over Saddam Hussein's death but I have wept at abortuaries in silent protest.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 02, 2007 6:27 AM ET USA

    I'm always surprised (disgusted would me more exact!) how good conservative Catholics are always eager to join the bandwagon when the death penalty is evoked. This is particularly true of American Catholic Conservatives: they are fervently against abortion, but when criminals are concerned (another human life), their arguments usually boil down to this: "Kill the b...!" What a sorry sight! In such circumstances I'm not sure we share the same faith in a loving God, whose only son was executed.

  • Posted by: Sidonius - Jan. 01, 2007 4:00 PM ET USA

    The Church is not against capital punishment in any and all circumstances and never was. Saddam was an image of God who was vicious and brutal and, with committed cadres in the field capable of coming back. End of story.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 01, 2007 9:07 AM ET USA

    Saddam wanted to see his god and we made his appoinment. IF my Reverend Professor of Morals instructed me properly, it is still moral to take life for captial crimes. Do he and I need to be "updated"?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2006 5:30 PM ET USA

    What were the objective moral standards applied by the Vatican in opposing the execution of Saddam Hussein? Here is the Catholic teaching on killing: “Q. Are there cases in which it is lawful to kill? A. It is lawful to kill when fighting in a just war; when carrying out by order of the Supreme Authority a sentence of death in punishment of a crime; and, finally, in cases of necessary and lawful defense of one's own life against an unjust aggressor.” (Catechism of St. Pius X)

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Dec. 31, 2006 11:51 AM ET USA

    Physical death is NOT the "ultimate evil..." and it never was... War and executions are not desirable..., but it never ceases to amaze me that often as Catholics we tend to elevate these issues... even above sin and damnation... Truly amazing