Letter to the Editor

Catholic position does not display moral relativism

Monday, August 25, 2003

To the editor:

Pope John Paul II issued the encyclical "The Gospel of Life" March 25, 1995, after four years of consultations with the world's Roman Catholic bishops. In it he wrote that execution is appropriate only "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

This is consistent with the most recent edition of the book of rules for Catholics: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

There is no moral relativism here. It is a continuing effort on the part of humans to align themselves more closely with what the Prince of Peace taught. Life is precious. No one has the right to destroy it except to save another life.

When someone says that another person's carefully reasoned thought is simply his belief, they give verification to the meaning of arrogant: full of unwarranted pride and self-importance.

Anyone who has honestly considered capital punishment must admit that the only deterrent is to the one being executed. It has not kept people from killing family, neighbors, policemen or anyone else.

ROBERT T. LUCAS

Cape Girardeau