Scoot Blog: Execution and the Church
Are you pro-life…even when it comes to capital punishment? Some struggle with a pro-life position that stops at capital punishment, but others are comfortable with being pro-life and pro-death penalty. Is that being hypocritical?
The question of the Catholic Church’s position on the death penalty is once again in the news because the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops asked LA. Gov. Bobby Jindal to halt an execution scheduled for February 13 – Ash Wednesday. The bishops group says that having an execution on the first day of the somber Christian season of Lent “would be inconsistent with the Lenten call for reconciliation and redemption and an unnecessary tragic irony.”
Do you agree? Should Gov. Jindal have agreed to halt the execution scheduled for an important day in the Church? And if you support capital punishment do you care if a person is executed on Ash Wednesday?
The Catholic Church remains somewhat ambiguous on the death penalty. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church includes opposition to the death penalty, but in such a way that one could interpret it as the Church allows executions. In his 26 years as leader of the Catholic Church, the late Pope John Paul II spoke frequently about his views on abolishing the death penalty around the world.
With the many social issues discussed on “The Scoot Show,” I often hear callers espouse the concept that “it’s written in the Bible.” A lot of things are written in the Bible and there are far too many people who pick and choose what parts they take literally. In the book of Exodus there is a passage about ‘an eye for an eye’, but then there is Ezekiel 33:11 “As I live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live.”
When talking about the issue of women in combat positions recently, a few callers sited that the Bible says men should protect women. I have long argued that as our humankind evolves and becomes more civilized it is important to remember that the Bible reflects the political and social landscape at the time it was written.
On the website, www.americancatholic.org this idea is addressed: “Scripture scholars teach us to understand the Bible (and its individual books) in historical context: when it was written and why. Thus considered, there is an ambivalence about capital punishment in the Scriptures.”
While the ‘word of God’ can always be respected, it is important to understand that many of the stories in the Bible mirror society at the time it was written - and not the world we live in today. As life is revealed to us we change - and some change can be in symphony with God’s plan.