Dominican Fathers
Sunday - May 27, 2001
Killing the Killer
Violence is rampant. People are frightened. People want to feel safe. They want the innocent protected from criminals. Of course, crime is a terrible problem and more must be done to stop the violence, but I do not believe that killing sanctioned by the state is the answer. I will vote on the 7th June to remove the law providing for the imposition of the death penalty. Capital punishment is the taking of life. Every time we deliberately take a human life, the life of a tiny unborn baby, the life of an AIDS victim, the lives of little children, young women, old men, we desensitise ourselves to the sacredness of all human life. I hasten to add that I am deeply aware to the needs of society to protect citizens from violent aggression and the urgent need to control the crime wave threatening our security and stability. There are, however, no easy solutions to crime, and the death penalty, in my view, aggravates rather than solves the problem. I believe we have become obsessed with violence as the only solution to violence. This is to give up on ourselves. We need to recognize that violence itself is the problem, and the more we resort to it, the worse we make it. Based on my experience as a prison chaplain on death row, in Port- of-Spain, Trinidad, I am against the death penalty for the following reasons: ¡P It is discriminatory against poor people. ¡P It is possible that an innocent person will be executed. ¡P No life is that worthless, no matter what the crime is. Killing someone is not the way to show that killing is wrong. ¡P I believe in change, a new start is always a possibility, and the possibility of reconciliation and rehabilitation always exists. ¡P I am opposed to using lethal means to solve social problems. ¡P I believe that only a consistent rejection of death as a policy instrument can uphold the dignity of human persons and the value of life. ¡P I believe that a policy of life imprisonment with parole for those found guilty of murder is an act of faith in our humanity. Finally, those who quote the bible in support of the death penalty must acknowledge that the bible calls for death, not only for acts of murder but also adultery, blasphemy, working on the Sabbath, disobedience to parents, fornication. If one were to literally apply the code of biblical law, there would be few people to carry out the prescribed executions. And in the process we would miss out on the central message of the bible to love and forgive.

Though Provoking

The Church in its official teaching has not yet condemned the death penalty as immoral. In the past it even accepted death as the normal punishment for religious ¡§crimes¡¨ like heresy. The fact that the Church condoned something in the past, does not necessarily make it right today, nor mean that Christians should condone it still. The Church accepted slavery, allowed torture and even launched savage wars in the past. Now it is a champion of human rights and freedom. This goes to show how Christians can enter more deeply into the truth of the gospel and see more clearly the value of every human being as a child of God, in the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. When people begin to ignore human dignity, it will not be long before they begin to ignore human rights. G.K. Chesterton. God always takes his stand unconditionally and passionately on his side and on this side alone; against the lofty and on behalf of the lowly. Karl Barth. A Church uncomfortable with paradox tends to tilt in one direction or the other, usually with disastrous consequences. Read the theologians of the first centuries as they try to fathom Jesus, the centre of our faith, who was somehow fully God and fully man. Read the theologians of today as they debate the intricacies of written revelation: a Bible that is God¡¦s word to us yet authored by individuals of widely varying intelligence, personality, and writing style.

Notice Board

Sunday Morning Ireland: Log in to this religious programme going out to the world website audience from St. Saviour¡¦s, Bridget Street, Waterford, every Sunday morning. Sunday Morning Ireland is an attempt on my part to reach out to and continue ministering to the people who have touched and enriched my life at different times and in different places. It is, also, an attempt to reach those who haven¡¦t left the Church but have stopped going to mass. Please pass the website address to anyone who might be interested. E-Mail: Note our e-mail address. If you have any comments, criticisms, insights or suggestions, we would be pleased to hear from you. We are grateful and encouraged by the responses we have received. Alive and Free: A new CD, Alive and Free, has just been released in Canada of live homilies Fr. Vincent preached in Vancouver. A limited number of copies are now available in the shop at a special offer of ¢G5.

Church Schedule

MASS SATURDAY: 7.30pm Vigil Mass SUNDAY: 7.00am 10.30am 12.00noon 7.00pm Weekdays: 8.00am & 10.30am CONFESSIONS SATURDAY: 10.10 - 10.25am 11.00 - 12 noon 4.00 - 5.00pm Weekdays: 10.10 - 10.25am Please Note: The new Mass schedule for Sunday will begin on the feast of Corpus Christy (June 17th). The masses will be as follows: 7am, 11am and 7pm. All correspondence to: Fr Vincent Travers O.P. Bridge Street, Waterford. Tel: 875061 Fax: 858093. Website: www.vincenttravers.org E-mail: vincietrav@eircom.net


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