"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Catholic Bishop Endangers Colorado Residents

Apparently Denver Archbishop Chaput is being credited for having an important hand in the Colorado House's decision to abolish capital punishment. The story goes that a 32-32 tie in the legislature was broken when one legislator underwent the following process:

Vigil, a former district attorney's investigator, thinks the death penalty is a useful tool. In a 2007 case, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava confessed to killing his girlfriend in Douglas County by dragging her behind his car. The threat of the death penalty secured Rubi-Nava's plea, Vigil said."As soon as the death penalty became part of the equation, he pled guilty and got a life sentence," he said.But Vigil also was thinking about moral appeals he had heard, including from Archbishop Charles Chaput, the senior Roman Catholic clergyman in Colorado.
Oh how wonderful! I hope Abp. Chaput, comfy and safe in his Episcopal lodgings, doesn't read the papers or doesn't have friends or family living in a less safe environment than his. If he read the Denver Post for example, he might find this intriguing statement demonstrating that imprisonment does not always protect victims from violent predators (thereby rendering capital punishment a morally legitimate punishment):

Attorney General John Suthers and district attorneys say the death penalty is key to discouraging the worst crimes. The threat of death is the only deterrent left for inmates sentenced to life in prison who might kill a guard or another inmate, Suthers said.
"If you don't have a death penalty, those are free murders," Suthers said. "There remains some crimes, some murders, that anything short of the death penalty is an inadequate societal response."

But the Archbishop doesn't have to work in a prison and interact with murderers who have absolutely no incentive not to attack or kill him. Or as a police officer trying to apprehend an escaped murderer. Or as a hospital worker tending to an incarcerated robber. Or perhaps he doesn't enjoy hiking, and so won't have to worry about a paroled murderer shooting him. But perhaps his Grace would like to put himself into the shoes of the least among us, and imagine himself an inmate in prison, accused by his cellmate of stealing the cellmate's breakfast, and then strangled to death for protesting his innocence.

Or Chaput might have bothered to look at just what kind of offenders receive a death sentence in Colorado and gotten back with us on how any of their cases do not reasonably reflect a judgment that incarceration would be insufficient to "render one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm." Unless it's now the American hierachy's position that their judgment on this issue of rendering offenders incapable of harm should be substituted in particular cases for that of the jury's, the trial court, and the appellate courts, who presumably know much more about the facts of the case and the background of the offender.

After all, isn't this the same Abp. Chaput who stated "in Catholic thought, war and capital punishment can be morally legitimate under certain carefully defined circumstances"?

I suppose when the media sing your praises on an issue, "Catholic thought," the Catechism, and common sense are optional.

1 comment:

Roger Conley said...

Are you trying to be a condescending jerk? Are you actually a liberal trying to make conservatives look stupid?

You write about Archbishop Chaput and capital punishment just the same way that liberals write about Archbishop Chaput and abortion. You don't put any argument in your post. You just make nasty pompous accusations. You seem to think that everybody who's against capital punishment doesn't care whether murderers kill more people because they think that that's ok as long as murderers murderer somebody else. You explicitly accuse Archbishop Chaput of believing that. I don't think you're stupid enough to believe your own accusation. I think you're lying when you make this claim. (By the way, if murderers are as dangerous as you say, and so impossible to protect against, isn't it immoral to give them trials and allow them appeals? Shouldn't we just kill them without bothering with all that legal stuff? Certainly any continuance requests by a prosecutor in a capital case are highly immoral, since they delay the necessary execution.)

Apparently you think that it's ok for Archbishop Chaput to think what he thinks about capital punishment, but because you think there are good effects of capital punishment, he has the obligation to shut up. He thinks he has rational reasons for being against capital punishment. I think he has rational reasons for his belief, but he comes to the wrong conclusion. Instead of these false and stupid accusations why don't you do some googling, find some good rational arguments in favor of capital punishment and use them? Maybe you'll convince some politicians. You know it's the politicians who are responsible for their votes. People who tell politicians what they think don't thereby become vicariously responsible for others' actions. Does a witness who testifies honestly as to what he thinks he saw become responsible for a jury finding a guilty defendant not guilty? We're all responsible for our own actions.

But if you look up some of the very good arguments in favor of capital punishment, and use them, maybe you'll convince somebody. Maybe even Archbishop Chaput. As you note he thinks this is a matter of prudential judgment. He just thinks that when he has made a prudential judgment he has the right to tell people what he thinks. You claim he doesn't.

Your post would make a nice propaganda piece that could be used by Liberal Catholics to show that prosecutors are nasty, vengeful, unthinking idiots. If a Liberal Catholic used your post to make that point to me I'd reply that they are not all like you.