- Two men seriously hurt in crash near Fruitland (9/21/16)3
- Driver charged with manslaughter in crash that killed 2 (9/27/16)
- Perryville man arrested for alleged patronizing prostitution, harassment (9/23/16)6
- Video and evidence largely confirm trooper's claims in April traffic stop shooting (9/23/16)9
- Cape man may lose eye after shovel beating, police say (9/25/16)2
- Funeral procession of former Cape Girardeau police chief Henry H. Gerecke (9/22/16)17
- Cape man accused of attacking pregnant girlfriend (9/22/16)
- Planning, design puts renovations of H-H building into hotel on hold (9/26/16)5
- Show Me Center upgrades may allow facility to draw more elaborate shows (9/21/16)17
- Woman accused of pushing Wal-Mart employee after theft (9/27/16)
There are better ways to punish than execution
To the editor:
Brandon Ruth's letter, "Catholic Church has always upheld the death penalty," is correct in its assertion that the traditional teaching of the church allows legitimate civil authorities the right to protect themselves, including recourse to the death penalty "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."
Where Ruth makes departs from Catholic teaching, however, is in his attempt to freeze the legitimate teaching authority of the church somewhere around the era of 1952. Catholics believe their bishops to be the official teachers of the church. None of them acts alone. In fact, no Catholic really ever acts alone if he understands who he is as member of the Body of Christ.
Our current teaching, as it has evolved, is that the death penalty ought not be used except in cases of extreme necessity, and that "today … such cases are very rare if practically nonexistent" (Pope John Paul II). Simply put, we believe that there are better ways of protecting our people from violent crimes. Moreover, we believe the application of the death penalty has been discriminatory toward the poor, the indigent and racial minorities. Our commitment to the value of human life leads us to oppose the use of the death penalty. While many people, including Catholics, struggle with this teaching, it is not the result of moral relativism, but the ongoing attempt of an imperfect church to be faithful to Christ.
The REV. J. FRIEDEL
Catholic Campus Ministry
Southeast Missouri State University