Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seeking Justice: "Capital Punishment Divides Republican AG Candidates in Virginia"

Commonwealth of Virginia prosecutor Tom McKenna has an interesting post on this year's Republican race for Attorney General of Virginia, which pits two social conservatives - one favoring the death penalty and the other a Catholic who opposes it - facing off against each other:
... What was mildly surprising is not that the left opposed the bill [which would expand the death penalty to include non-triggermen, such as John Allen Muhammed, who avoided capital punishment because his accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo was the actual triggerman] but that a Catholic, homeschooling, social conservative, Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for state Attorney General, argued that "we're killing enough people in Virginia," ...

Sadly, Mr. Cuccinelli, who should garner alot of support from social conservatives, will lose his bid for the Republican nomination for AG, in part because of his opposition to capital punishment. The "moderates" of Northern Virginia (his home) won't reward him for it because on all other social issues he's solidly pro-life-- and horror of horrors, a homeschooler (you know, one of those). And the downstate Repubs will wonder why we should have an AG who opposes capital punishment when one of the AG's most important responsibilities is to defend capital convictions vigorously in the state and federal appellate courts.

By default then, the nomination will fall to John Brownlee, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, a social conservative, and someone who believes in the appropriate use of capital punishment.

I suspect Mr. Cuccinelli has been hoodwinked by the American Catholic Bishops and other Catholic liberals into believing that he cannot support capital punishment and remain a loyal Catholic, a lie debunked by yours truly here and elsewhere on this blog.
My Comments:
I know that many readers of this blog will take issue with my friend Tom's views on capital punishment. Indeed, I have come to oppose the death penalty, myself, NOT because I think it inherently wrong or unjust - I don't, but because, as a prudential matter, opposing the death penalty makes arguing on behalf of a culture of life much easier. I got sick of getting bogged down in arguing the REAL distinctions that exist between abortion and capital punishment, and decided that, along with the Pope and his Bishops, it was preferable to oppose capital punishment.

That said, I'd like to make 2 observations about Tom's post:

(1) If you're going to have a death penalty, surely Tom is absolutely correct in pointing out that it makes no sense to allow a non-triggerman like John Allen Muhammed to avoid it by virtue of the fact that Lee Boyd Malvo was the guy doing all the shooting; and

(2) Let's see if all those self-proclaimed "consistent ethic of life"/"seamless garment" Catholics who seem to be able to come up with a myriad of reasons to support pro-abort Democrats can put aside their tribal loyalties and bring themselves to support an anti-abortion and anti-capital-punishment Catholic Republican. [Sound of crickets chirping]

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At 1/21/2009 12:49 PM, Blogger James H said...

Great post have linked

At 1/21/2009 3:20 PM, Blogger Michael D. said...

a quick note-

No Catholic should think the death penalty is inherently wrong; according to Church teaching, there are instances when it is necessary. This is opposed to abortion, which is an inherent evil and is always wrong regardless of the circumstances.

The question of the death penalty today is then whether or not the circumstances of the modern world , with modern prisons and technology, require the death penalty to be necessary. It's kinda like the just war theory; it has to be the last resort.

That aside, you're absolutely right on the lack of liberal support. They use capital punishment and stem cell research only as a way to try to nullify the abortion issue in order so that they can vote according to their own single concern. Minion for example couldn't care less about anything other than health care; he manipulates Church language in order to try to establish health care, rather than abortion, as his single issue all the while arguing for a wholistic approach to Catholic voting.

At 1/21/2009 4:12 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...

"No Catholic should think the death penalty is inherently wrong ..."

You know that. And I know that. But there are plenty of "social justice" types who don't know that ... or who at least pretend that this is not the case.

"The question of the death penalty today is then whether or not the circumstances of the modern world , with modern prisons and technology, require the death penalty to be necessary. It's kinda like the just war theory; it has to be the last resort."

Rather than buy into modern nuances and questionable "doctrinal developments", I'll once again state for the record that I oppose the death penalty because (1) it seems prudent to do so in order to make a wholistic argument in favor of a culture of life, and (2) the Holy Father and the Bishops appear to be of the opinion that this is what Catholics ought to do.

At 1/21/2009 4:28 PM, Blogger dudleysharp said...

You can also consider that Pope John Paul II's stance against the death penalty was inherently flawed, both logically and theologically, and that the Catechism was improperly amended with his incorrect stance.

Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement & the Death Penalty:
The good Pope's death penalty errors
by Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info, below
October 1997, with subsequent updates thru 5/07


The new Roman Catholic position on the death penalty, introduced in 1997, is based upon the thoughts of Pope John Paul II, whose position conflicts with reason, as well as biblical, theological and traditional Catholic teachings spanning nearly 2000 years.

Pope John Paul II's death penalty writings in Evangelium Vitae were flawed and their adoption into the Catechism was improper.

In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church decided to amend the 1992 Universal Catechism to reflect Pope John Paul II's comments within his 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). Therein, the Pope finds that the only time executions can be justified is when they are required "to defend society" and that "as a result of steady improvements . . . in the penal system that such cases are very rare if not practically non existent."

This is, simply, not true. Murderers, tragically, harm and murder, again, way too often.

Furthermore, the Church has always supported the death penalty, partially based upon a defense of society, but also on many other foundations, which the Pope never addressed, even though those foundations call for continuing the death penalty. Steady improvements in the penal system are, really, quite irrelevant, regarding something as important as Church teachings. The state of the criminal justice system is not only secular and temporal, but varies in all jurisdictions of the world.

It seems unbelievable that such reasoning could be the basis for an amendment to a Catechism.

Many issues, inexplicably, escaped the Pope's consideration.

First, in the Pope's context, "to defend society" means that the execution of the murderer must save future lives or, otherwise, prevent future harm.

When looking at the history of criminal justice practices in probations, paroles and incarcerations, we observe countless examples of when judgements and procedures failed and, because of that, murderers harmed and/or murdered, again. History details that murderers murder and otherwise harm again, time and time again -- in prison, after escape, after improper release, and, of course, after we fail to capture or incarcerate them.

Reason dictates that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and/or murder again than are executed murderers - an obvious truism overlooked by the Pope.

Therefore, the Pope could err, by calling for a reduction or end to execution, and thus harm more innocents, or he could "err" on the side of protecting more innocents by calling for an expansion of executions.

History, reason and the facts support an increase in executions based upon a defending society foundation.

Secondly, if social science concludes that executions provide enhanced deterrence for murders, then the Pope's position should call for increased executions.

If we decide that the deterrent effect of executions does not exist and we, therefore, choose not to execute, and we are wrong, this will sacrifice more innocent lives and also give those murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again.

If we choose to execute, believing in the deterrent effect, and we are wrong, we are executing our worst human rights violators and preventing such murderers from ever harming or murdering again - again, defending more innocent lives.

No responsible social scientist has or will say that the death penalty deters no one. Quite a few studies, including 16 recent ones, inclusive of their defenses, find that executions do deter.

As all prospects for negative consequence deter some (there appears to be no exception), it is a mystery why the Pope chose the option which spares murderers and sacrifices more innocent lives.

If the Pope's defending society position has merit, then, again, the Church must actively support executions, as it offers an enhanced defense of society and greater protection for innocent life.

Thirdly, we know that some criminals don't murder because of their fear of execution. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. Unquestionably, the incapacitation effect (execution) and the individual deterrent effect both exist and they both defend society by protecting innocent life and offer enhanced protections over imprisonment.

Fourth, furthermore, individual deterrence assures us that general deterrence must exist, because individual deterrence could not exist without it.

Executions defend more innocent lives.

Fifth, actual innocents that are convicted for murders are better protected by due process in death penalty cases, than in non-death penalty cases. No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the US death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed. That is. logically, conclusive.

Again, offering more defense of innocents and, thereby, a greater defense of society.

The Pope's defending society standard should be a call for increasing executions. Instead, the Pope and other Church leadership has chosen a position that spares the lives of known murderers, resulting in more innocents put at risk and more innocents harmed and murdered -- a position which, quite clearly, contradicts the Pope's, and other's, conclusions.

Contrary to the Church's belief, that the Pope's opinion represents a tougher stance against the death penalty, the opposite is true. When properly evaluated, the defending society position supports more executions.

Had these issues been properly assessed, the Catechism would never have been amended -- unless the Church endorses a position knowing that it would spare the lives of guilty murderers, at the cost of sacrificing more innocent victims.

When the choice is between

1) sparing murderers, resulting in more harmed and murdered innocents, who suffer through endless moments of incredible horror, with no additional time to prepare for their salvation, or
2) executing murderers, who are given many years on death row to prepare for their salvation, and saving more innocents from being murdered,

The Pope and the Catholic Church have an obligation to spare and defend more innocents, as Church tradition, the Doctors of the Church and many Saints have concluded. (see reference, below)

Pope John Paul II's death penalty stance was his own, personal prudential judgement and does not bind any other Catholic to share his position. Any Catholic can choose to support more executions, based upon their own prudential judgement, and remain a Catholic in good standing and they can also, thereby, defend more innocents.

Furthermore, prudential judgement requires a foundation of reasoned and thorough review. The Pope either improperly evaluated the risk to innocents or he did not evaluate it at all.

A defending society position supports more executions, not less. Therefore, Pope John Paul II's prudential judgement was in error on this important fact, thereby undermining his sole point in reducing executions.

Sixth, defending society is an outcome of the death penalty, but is secondary to the foundation of justice and biblical instruction. See some references, at bottom.

Even though Romans and additional writings do reveal a "defending society" consideration, such references pale in comparison to the mandate that execution is the proper punishment for murder, regardless of any consideration "to defend society." Both the Noahic covenant, in Genesis 9:6 ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed."), and the Mosaic covenant, throughout the Pentateuch (Ex.: "He that smiteth a man so that he may die, shall be surely put to death." Exodus 21:12), provide execution as the punishment for unjustifiable/intentional homicide, otherwise known as murder.

These texts, and others, offer specific rebuttal to the Pope's position that if "bloodless means" for punishment are available then such should be used, to the exclusion of execution. Pope John Paul II's prudential judgement does not trump biblical instruction.

Seventh, the Roman Catholic tradition instructs four elements to be considered with criminal sanction.
1. Defense of society against the criminal.
2. Rehabilitation of the criminal (including spiritual rehabilitation).
3. Retribution, which is the reparation of the disorder caused by the criminal's transgression.
4. Deterrence

It is a mystery why and how the Pope could have excluded three of these important elements and wrongly evaluated the fourth. In doing so, though, we can confirm that his review was both incomplete and improper.

At least two Saints, Paul and Dismas, faced execution and stated that it was appropriate. They were both executed. Jesus invoked capital punishment on several occasions and never challenged it.

The Holy Ghost decided that death was the proper punishment for two devoted, early Christians, Ananias and his wife, Saphira, for the crime/sin of lying. Neither was given a moment to consider their earthly punishment or to ask for forgiveness. The Holy Ghost struck them dead.

For those who erroneously contend that Jesus abandoned the Law of the Hebrew Testament, He states that He has come not "to abolish the law and the prophets . . . but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17-22. While there is honest debate regarding the interpretation of Mosaic Law within a Christian context, there seems little dispute that the Noahic Covenant is still in effect and that Genesis 9:6 deals directly with the sanctity of life issue in its support of execution.

(read "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

"In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). (Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000).

Saint Pius V reaffirms this mandate, in the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), stating that executions are acts of "paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment." ("Thou shalt not murder," sometimes improperly translated as "kill" instead of "murder"). And, not only do the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine concur, but both saints also find that such punishment actually reflects charity and mercy by preventing the wrongdoer from sinning further. The Saints position is that execution offers undeniable defense of society as well as defense of the wrongdoer.

Such prevention also expresses the fact that execution is an enhanced defense of society, over and above all other punishments.

Eighth, the relevant question is "What biblical and theological teachings, developed from 1566 through 1997, provide that the standard for executions should evolve from 'paramount obedience' to God's eternal law to a civil standard reflecting 'steady improvements' . . . in the penal system?". Such teachings hadn't changed. The Pope's position is social and contrary to biblical, theological and traditional teachings.

If Saint Pius V was correct, that executions represent "paramount obedience to the [Fifth] Commandments, then is it not disobedient to reduce or stop executions? Of course.

The Church's position on the use of the death penalty has been consistent from 300 AD through 1995 AD. The Church has always supported the use of executions, based upon biblical and theological principles.

Until 1995, says John Grabowski, associate professor of Moral Theology at Catholic University, " . . . Church teachings were supportive of the death penalty. You can find example after example of Pope's, of theologians and others, who have supported the right of the state to inflict capital punishment for certain crimes and certain cases." Grabowski continues: "What he (the Pope now) says, in fact, in his encyclical, is that given the fact that we now have the ability, you know, technology and facilities to lock up someone up for the rest of their lives so they pose no future threat to society -- given that question has been answered or removed, there is no longer justification for the death penalty." (All Things Considered, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 9/9/97.)

Ninth, the Pope's position is now based upon the state of the corrections system -- a position neither biblical nor theological in nature. Furthermore, it is a position which conflicts with the history of prisons. Long term incarceration of lawbreakers in Europe began in the 1500s. Of course, long term incarceration of slaves had begun thousands of years before -- meaning that all were aware that criminal wrongdoers could also be subject to bondage, if necessary - something that all historians and biblical scholars -- now and then -- were and are well aware of.

Since it's inception, the Church has issued numerous pronouncements, encyclicals and previous Universal Catechisms. Had any biblical or theological principle called for a replacement of the death penalty by life imprisonment, it would have been revealed long before 1995.

Tenth, the levels of incarceration security and lengths of criminal sentences vary, wildly, throughout the world. Therefore, there is no uniform state of the criminal justice system, making the Pope's position even less universal and less responsible and much more problematic.

Eleventh, there is, finally, a disturbing reality regarding the Pope's new standard. The Pope's defending society standard requires that the moral concept of justice becomes irrelevant. The Pope's standard finds that capital punishment can be used only as a vehicle to prevent future crimes. Therefore, using the Pope's standard, the moral/biblical rational -- that capital punishment is the just or required punishment for murder -- is no longer relevant to the sin/crime of murder.

If defending society is the new standard, the Pope has decided, based upon secular standards, that the biblical standards of atonement, expiation, justice and required punishments have all, necessarily, been discarded, with regard to execution.

The Pope's new position establishes that capital punishment no longer has any connection to the harm done or to the imbalance to be addressed. Yet, such connection had always been, until now, the Church's historical, biblically based perspective on this sanction. Under a defending society standard, the injury suffered by the murder victim is no longer relevant to their punishment. Executions can be justified solely upon that punishments ability to prevent future harm by the murderer.

Therefore, when considering executions in regard to capital murder cases, a defending society standard renders justice irrelevant. Yet, execution defends society to a degree unapproachable by any other punishment and, therefore, should have been fully supported by the Pope.

"Some enlightened people would like to banish all conception of retribution or desert from our theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself. They do not see that by doing so they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?" (quote attributed to the distinguished Christian writer C. S. Lewis)

Again, with regard to the Pope's prudential judgement, his neglect of justice was most imprudent.

Some Catholic scholars, properly, have questioned the appropriateness of including prudential judgement within a Catechism. Personal opinion does not belong within a Catechism and, likely, will never be allowed, again. I do not believe it had ever been allowed before.

In fact, neither the Church nor the Pope would accept a defending society standard for use of the death penalty, unless the Church and the Pope believed that such punishment was just and deserved, as well. The Church has never questioned the authority of the government to execute in "cases of extreme gravity," nor does it do so with these recent changes.

Certainly, the Church and the Pope John Paul II believe that the prevention of any and all violent crimes fulfills a defending society position. There is no doubt that executions defend society at a level higher than incarceration. Why has the Pope and many within Church leadership chosen a path that spares murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives, when they could have chosen a stronger defense of society which spares more innocents?

Properly, the Pope did not challenge the Catholic biblical and theological support for capital punishment. The Pope has voiced his own, personal belief as to the appropriate application of that penalty.

So why has the Pope come out against executions, when his own position -- a defense of society -- which, both rationally and factually, has a foundation supportive of more executions?

It is unfortunate that the Pope, along with some other leaders in the Church, have decided to, improperly, use a defending society position to speak against the death penalty.

The Pope's position against the death penalty condemns more innocents and neglects justice.


(1) "Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching", 1998, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. See bottom.

"There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world." "Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty."

"Most of the Church's teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium."

"Equally important is the Pope's (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity." " . . . the Church's teaching on 'the coercive power of legitimate human authority' is based on 'the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.' It is wrong, therefore 'to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.' On the contrary, they have 'a general and abiding validity.' (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2)."

about Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

(2) "The Death Penalty", by Romano Amerio, a faithful Catholic Vatican insider, scholar, professor at the Academy of Lugano, consultant to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, and a peritus (expert theologian) at the Council.

I find this to be a thorough theological repudiation of Pope John Paul II's death penalty prudential judgements and of their improper inclusion into the amending of the Catechism.

"Amerio has the great gift of going to the heart of a subject in a few lines and very neatly distinguishes genuine Catholicism from imitations and aberrations." "What makes Amerio's analysis unique is that he restricts himself to official and semi-official pronouncements by popes, cardinals, bishops, episcopal conferences and articles in L'Osservatore Romano, from the time of Pope John XXIII to 1985 when the book was originally written." (1)

titled "Amerio on capital punishment ", Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum, May 25, 2007

About Romano Amerio

(3) "Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty", at

(4) "Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective",
by Br. Augustine (Emmanuel Valenza)

(5) "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice", Prof. J. Budziszewski, First Things, August / September 2004 found at

(6) "The Death Penalty", by Solange Strong Hertz at

(7) "Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says", Dr. Lloyd R. Bailey, Abingdon Press, 1987.
The definitive biblical review of the death penalty.

(8) "Why I Support Capital Punishment", by Andrew Tallman
sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review

(9) Forgotten Truths: "Is The Church Against Abortion and The Death Penalty"
by Luiz Sergio Solimeo, Crusade Magazine, p14-16, May/June 2007

(10) "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

(11) "God’s Justice and Ours" by US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, First Things, 5/2002

(12) "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)",
by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003

(13) Chapter V:The Sanctity of Life, "Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics" By John Murray

KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers, March 2, 2004

KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers,, Nov. 22, 2005

70% of Catholics supported the death penalty as of May, 2oo5, Gallup Poll, Moral Values and Beliefs. The May 2-5, 2005 poll also found that 74% of Americans favor the death penalty for murderers, while 23% oppose.

copyright 1999-2008 Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part, is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites see Death Penalty (Sweden)

At 1/21/2009 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have gotten a bit far afield here--the point is, Cuccinelli doesn't support the death penalty, and he summed it all up with the loaded phrase "we are killing enough people in Virginia."
People don't understand the importance of the relationship between our state AG and other state and federal law enforcement authorities. There has to be a symbiotic relationship, folks, and if we have a state AG who says stuff like this, no one is going to take that office seriously.
Oh wait, Cuccinelli will be off somewhere starting an inter-party feud and trying to get a leg up on Bolling for a run for Governor anyway, and not running the state AG's office.
Brownlee is the man for the job.

At 1/21/2009 5:17 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...


I certainly understand your sentiments, and might be somewhat sympathetic if this blog were primarily concerned with getting Republicans elected to office. Or if it were primarily concerned with the relationship between the Commonwealth and other state and federal agencies vis-a-vis the death penalty. However, it isn't.

This blog is primarily concerned with Catholic social teaching and how Catholics apply those principles in carrying out their responsibilities in the public square. As such, Mr. Cuccinelli is someone who is likely to have appeal for many Catholics such as myself who are socially conservative, but view the death penalty as an impediment to creating a culture of life.

At 1/23/2009 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay - Your reasons for opposing the death penalty do sound fairly pragmatic. However, Tom McKenna is entirely correct that the truth, the teaching of the Catholic Church, is that the death penalty is permissible in certain circumstances which are within the discretion of the civil authorities. As long as a governor or president can commute a death sentence and let murderers out of prison to murder again (which has happened), then the fallacy of life without parole just doesn't exist. And what of the murders committed in prison by criminals who know that they cannot be given the death penalty? It makes no sense to compare the few deaths a year of guilty criminals to the million plus horrific deaths of unborn children. They do not compare, and it is a disservice to reason and the truth to abandon the truth because liberals are unreasonable. Wouldn't the death penalty in fact promote the culture of life in certain circumstances?


At 1/23/2009 3:54 AM, Blogger dudleysharp said...

As is specifically expressed within Genesis 9 "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

It is the sacredness of life that reuired the death penalty for murder.

" . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." (p. 111-113) Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: ". . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy." (p. 116). "A Bible Study", by Dr. Gervas A. Carey, from Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.  Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Carey, a Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College

At 2/25/2009 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for accuracy folks, your intial assertion that Cuccinelli is against the Death Penalty is absolutely false. Here's a quote from Sen. Ken Cuccinelli's campaign email where he explains his position:

"So you have the information yourself, I have always been a supporter of Virginia's death penalty law. In the Senate, I have consistently fought against Democrats' efforts to impose a death penalty moratorium - and I have opposed efforts to allow endless appeals in death penalty cases.

As a State Senator, I have voted to extend the death penalty to people who murder trial witnesses, judges and law enforcement officers. And as your Attorney General, I am committed to upholding the death penalty verdicts of our juries and will work to defend and strengthen our capital punishment law from intrusions and attempts by the left to derail it.

I also have supported and will continue to support the death penalty under the current exceptions to the "triggerman rule" for (1) terrorism (including the beltway sniper case), (2) murder for hire, and (3) criminal enterprises/gangs. However, there have been legislative attempts to completely eliminate the triggerman rule, which I believe would be too broad an expansion. That's the only expansion of the death penalty that I have ever opposed, while supporting other expansions and always defending our current death penalty statute."

So while it's fair to say that he opposes complete removal of the "Triggerman Rule" it's unfair and misinformation to say (as many of the supporters of Brownlee are saying) that Ken is opposed to the Death Penalty.

At 2/26/2009 1:36 AM, Blogger dudleysharp said...

The recent jab against Cuccinelli, comes from this:

In an interview, Cuccinelli tried to undermine Obenshain's argument about the hypothetical bank holdup.

"What if two guys go into the bank and one shoots five tellers while the other one stands there thinking, 'Why did he do that?' " Cuccinelli said.

"It's going to look to the jury like they were executing a plan, and he's going to be executed like the first guy."

This regards Cuccinelli's ethics based, but poorly argued opposition to changuing the triggerman rule in Va. Curently, only the one who actually does the murder can be executed. Some in Va want it expanded to non triggerman accomplices.

Cuccinelli's objection to including accomplises is that sometimes we really cannot know what their intention was, while knowong the intention of the actual murderer is much easier.

My complaint, and others', against Cuccinelli is that, using his example, it's an armed robery. That means do what we say or your dead. The accomplice knew that innocents might be murdered in the course of their action and thus must share the moral culpability of any actions from the robbery.

Furthermore, situations, as Cuccinelli raised, can be argued at trial and let the jury decide.

Few would argue that husbands who hire hit men to murder their wives shouldn' be as morally culpable as the hit man. Without this chnage in the law, Osama bin Laden wouldn't be held as legally culpable as those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, even though his moral culpability is at least as high as those who carried out the attack.

However wrong I think Cuccinelli is, that doesn't make him against the death penalty.

At 2/28/2009 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dudley you are incorrect. As Cuccinelli's quote I posted above states, the law on the books today already includes exeptions for gang/criminal enterprises, terrorism, and murder for hire. All three of the examples you post, including Sen. Obenshain's are covered under the existing law that Sen. Cuccinelli supported and voted for, even over the veto's of Gov. Tim Kaine. So, what he opposes is removing the Triggerman Rul in it's entirety including the exceptions on the books today.


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