Dec 2, 2006

Saddam Hussein Sentenced

I was reading News of the Weird on Reuters today and came across something not so weird.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A visibly shaken Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity on Sunday and sentenced to hang at a lightning session of the U.S.-sponsored court that has been trying him in Baghdad for the past year.

It got me to thinking. Yes, my stance on abortion is very ProLife, but what about capital punishment?

The retaliatory portion of me says Heck Yeah, let him swing high! Yes, Saddam was a sadistic, evil dictator. He killed more than a million people, committed numerous crimes against humanity, committed genocide against the native Kurds, and numerous other heinous crimes during his tyrannical reign of terror.

But the compassionate, Catholic part of me says that all life is sacred. Many call this the "Seamless Garment" concept - where all life is sacred no matter what the conditions. God's own commandments say Thou Shall Not Kill. There is no unwritten "except when..." to that rule.

But in doing research on this very issue, look what I found:

The Church throughout her history has firmly held to the natural law principle that the state has the right to execute criminals who are a threat both to the innocent and to the harmony of society. One of the principal duties of the state is to protect the rights of its citizens from the unjust taking of those rights. The state itself is supposed to be subordinate to this same principle so that its citizens can feel secure that their individual, God given, rights are protected in every circumstance. When the rights of the innocent person are violated by those who transgress the law the state has the right to use whatever means are necessary and appropriate to secure the rights of its individual citizens and its society as a whole. Without the protection of the state, exercised according to the natural law, the innocent suffer and unjust aggressors prosper, order and harmony break down and freedom for law-abiding citizens is lost. In the Old Testament God speaks of this necessary order continuously. Capital punishment was even required by God to maintain the natural order and harmony of Israelite society. Jesus never once refuted this natural law precept which, as the Second Person of the Trinity, He created in the first place.

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." (Genesis 9:6)
Pro-Life and Pro-Capital Punishment: Contradition in Terms? by Anthony Gonzales

I'm a convert to the Church and haven't been taught as a cradle Catholic has, but here is what the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2267 says:
If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should 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.
Does this not narrow the conditions under which a life can be taken? Have I fully muddled your thinking, too?

Consider this: Both Mother Teresa and Pope JP2 tried to intervene on the behalf of sentenced to death criminals. They are both prime examples of the belief in the sanctity of all human life, as well as an image of what Roman Catholicism is: lives living what they believe, daily.

So I guess the answer is, it depends upon your own personal interpretation. Does the Eye for an Eye principal of Hammurabi and Exodus pertain or does the all embracing love of Christ?

I know that it isn't over for Saddam. He will probably have appeals upon appeals before anything becomes final. So during that time, I will pray for him to approach God humbly for forgiveness and to sincerely repent of his sins.

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