Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Execution, Even in This Case, Is Wrong. (Editorials)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Execution, Even in This Case, Is Wrong. (Editorials)

Article excerpt

Take political ambition and prosecutorial zeal, combine them with the death penalty and a 24/7 media frenzy surrounding the cruel and calculated shootings of more than a dozen people, and you've got a recipe for ugliness. That's precisely what we have in the aftermath of the arrests of the "Beltway snipers."

In a three-week period ending Oct. 24, John Allen Muhammad and his teenage sidekick, John Lee Malvo, allegedly placed 13 unsuspecting men, women and children within the sites of their .223 caliber rifle. Eleven died. Muhammad and Malvo have subsequently been linked to other killings or attempted murders.

These crimes cry out for justice--not state-sanctioned murder.

The reason the Catholic church opposes the death penalty is because Catholics believe all human life is made in the image of God. All human life sacred. No human life is beyond redemption.

It is, therefore, especially in cases such as these, that we are called on to assert our beliefs.

What a marvelous moment it would be if some prominent public office holders spoke up against the execution of these alleged murderers. What we're getting instead, at least from the Justice Department and prosecutors in the half-dozen or more counties that claim jurisdiction, are calls for vengeance.

Adding to the ugliness, it does not seem to matter much that Malvo is a minor, or that, as a vulnerable youth, he came under the heavy influence of Muhammad, his "uncle" and surrogate father.

Douglas Gansler, the grandstanding state's attorney for Montgomery County, Md., clearly wants his suburban Maryland jurisdiction--the site of six of the shootings--to be the first to prosecute Mohammad and Malvo. As he made the all-too-expected rounds of the Sunday network talk shows, Gansler seemed almost sorry that Maryland does not allow for the execution of minors. …

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