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THE DEATH PENALTY: EXAMINING OUR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE

In a facility at Kazimiyah, where many of Saddam Hussein’s political enemies were executed during his turbulent reign of control in Iraq, Hussein himself was killed by hanging on December 30, 2006. The Vatican issued a statement denouncing the act, taking this opportunity to reiterate the Church’s stand against capital punishment and to voice its reasons for rejecting the death penalty.

by Kathy Perry

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Lenten address of this year, has chosen the scripture theme: "They shall look upon him whom they have pierced" (John 19:37). He also speaks of the quality of Jesus’ love, "We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others."

     Benedict’s reflection gives us valuable food for thought, especially when we bring his message into the gritty reality of our everyday lives. What really happened to Jesus was this: He was tortured and executed in public by his fellow human beings who felt justified in doing so. Our human experience suggests that it’s hard to love some people. Sometimes it’s downright impossible. Jesus’ message was that it’s possible to let God’s love overtake our own impulse to hatred. Whatever else we can say about Christian love and killing, we can probably agree that it seems difficult to integrate them into one human activity.

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