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God helps those who help murderers

One of the few signs of hope in and around Boston in the struggle against gang violence and street crime has been the churches. They have, for years, worked to wean people away from the cycle of violence, the deadly brutality of the gang life. And they've achieved a great deal.

But that is being threatened, as the clergy are now banning together and saying that they will cease their cooperation with local and state officials. And they're doing it on behalf of two alleged gangstas accused of murder.

As I've written before, Massachusetts has no death penalty. The greatest penalty you can receive from the Commonwealth, regardless of the heinousness of your offense, is life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

But Massachusetts law isn't the highest law. Sometimes, federal officials get involved. And they have in the cases of Darryl Green, 28, and Branden Morris, 22, who have been charged with federal offenses for murder -- and prosecutors say that they may seek the death penalty.

And that has the clergy all bothered. They say that they cannot condone the death penalty under any circumstances. And they say that local officials who cooperate with federal officials in cases that may result in a capital conviction are, in essence, bypassing the state's law forbidding executions. And if they do that, then the clergy will no longer cooperate with those local officials.

The clergy think they're taking a principled stand here. But to my way of thinking, they're taking whole communities hostage and threatening to abandon them to the gangs -- and their demand is to remove even the threat of executing two accused murderers who haven't even been convicted yet.

Great going there, padres.

Comments (20)

No offense Jay, but as a se... (Below threshold)

No offense Jay, but as a self professed agnostic what would you know about decisions involving Catholic moral principles?

Perhaps you should stick to politics.

Actually Jay Tea, they are ... (Below threshold)

Actually Jay Tea, they are being consistent. Wrong maybe, but consistent.


Do you use the chickenhawk meme when discussing Iraq?

Just asking.

Fatman: good points - but w... (Below threshold)

Fatman: good points - but when was the last time that same clergy threatened non-cooperation or whatever over the consistent (pro-life) policies?

Or the last time it was applauded by the press? (Which I realize is a different subject - but weren't folks in the press recently insisting that a politician NOT be influenced by religious figures?)

I musta' read the article i... (Below threshold)

I musta' read the article in cursory fashion because I don't find any mention of the Catholic Church -- "clergy" is used in reference to a few protestant denominations, but that's all.

So, I now don't follow the thread nor the comments that have followed.

To Jay Tea...well, one's political perspectives should not be inherently up against the religious values of others. What I mean by that is that you declare as an agnostic and yet you often question religious values of those who have them and why. I think you may not be as much a disbeliever as you declare, is my point, but perhaps trying to use political issues to circumvent direct discussions of ideology.

I'm a Catholic but I have problems understanding the Church's counselling as to state-enacted "death penalt(ies". It's difficult to mix up religous values with democratic processes -- d'oh, I add here -- but in the long run, most values we hold dear in civilization are inspired by the Judeo-Christian value range with most from Christianity. Everything compromising Christian inspiration/outright values is compromise to maintain principles with certain considerations.

But, on an individual basis, arguing out personal values in relationship to state enabled and/or governmental enabled "rights" and such...it's an unended argument. Thus, most of us research and establish our own values and beliefs and try to live by them. Enough people do that, and you get a society afterward.

Equals: how it ("government") is done.

The "eye for an eye" vengeance by society belief is based in Judaism. If that sheds any light on things. The Commandment ("Thou Shalt Not Kill") is being now said to actually translate to "...Not Murder" but even that leaves room to argue out capital punishment, for all except the perspective of society murdering in self defense (which meets your criteria, I think, as to reason/acceptability of capital punishment).

"Clergy" does not inherentl... (Below threshold)

"Clergy" does not inherently translate to "padres" unless one is discussing a Spanish community/society...is THAT the point?

"Or the last time it was ap... (Below threshold)

"Or the last time it was applauded by the press?"

Are you saying these clergymen are being applauded? I notice whenever the MSM covers a story not to the liking of the Right, they're get criticized for taking the wrong side. Reporting on something isn't the same as endorsing it. And by the way, I don't think you have to worry too much about the Boston Herald taking a liberal stance on anything.

Suzy, I make a point of onl... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Suzy, I make a point of only criticizing religious figures when they act outside the direct sphere of their faith, and their actions directly affect those not part of their flock. In the case of the Catholic pedophile priest scandal, there was a grave issue of law at stake. In the Mormons posthumously baptizing people, the Jews were protesting. And here, they are threatening to withdraw their good will and efforts on behalf of whole communities -- not just their respective congregations.

Believe me, if I ever wanted to out-and-out attack a religion, I have plenty of ammunition at my disposal. But I view it as inappropriate -- I've already expressed my disapproval by my refusal to ascribe to their faith; to take it further is simply extending into matters that are none of my business.

Here, we have a case of the clergy feeling so vehemently about a cause that they are willing to threaten the well-being of whole communities, people who really have no say in the matter that the clergy are so bent out of shape over. In essence, as I said, they're holding these people hostage. And that is what I find so loathsome.


Contrary to popular belief,... (Below threshold)

Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic church does not have an absolute prohibition against capital punishment.

The catechism does say it's a 'use only as last resort' kinda thing, but it does not say 'absolutely cannot be used'.

These "clergy" should read ... (Below threshold)

These "clergy" should read the Torah. G-d said that murderers shall perish at the hand of man (Deuteronomy I believe). The death penalty is both moral and just. It is immoral to let a murderer live his life out. As the Hebrew saying goes: if you are kind to the cruel, then you will be cruel to the kind.

Its pretty obvious stuff.

I don't think you can blame... (Below threshold)

I don't think you can blame the clergy in this case. The debate is out over how much effect the dealth penalty (or even the threat of the death penalty) has on curbing violent crime. But you can't criticize the clergy for a very basic theological idea and sticking with it. That being said Im catholic and id still burn the fuckers if they are guilty...

oh and Ed.. the new testeme... (Below threshold)

oh and Ed.. the new testement superceeds the old testment in the eys of most christian clergies..

Oh and callmemickey...then ... (Below threshold)

Oh and callmemickey...then they are not following G-d's laws. As a Jew, Jesus would believe what is in the Torah.

Apostate clergy is more lik... (Below threshold)

Apostate clergy is more like it. The Bible explicitly gives authority to the state to exercise the death penalty in Romans 13. Their so-called "principled stand" is in contravention to the plain teaching of God's word. But what is to be expected? The "mainstream" denominations are aping the world in just about every way imaginable.

"It's pretty simple, really... (Below threshold)

"It's pretty simple, really."

We must kill because God commands it.

Congratulations, that's pretty much the medical definition of insanity.

God also hates shrimp. Does that make you an abomination?

"they're taking whole commu... (Below threshold)

"they're taking whole communities hostage..."

Yeah, that's what they're doing. Why not 'holding a gun to women and children'?

Whatever point you wished to make, it is lost in your ridiculous hyperbole. Maybe you should save the rhetoric for those who have actually abandoned their responsibilities instead of attacking as 'helpers of murderers' those who have been making a difference and wish to remain true to their principles.

"We must kill because Go... (Below threshold)

"We must kill because God commands it.

Congratulations, that's pretty much the medical definition of insanity.

God also hates shrimp. Does that make you an abomination?"

You know, I really have to laugh at those that think they know Hebrew scripture, but are in reality totally clueless.

G-d does not command that we "kill". He commands that we not murder. The 6th commandment is often misunderstood, either by intelletual dishonesty or by Biblical ignorance. Furthermore, the removal of context by the anti-religious spinmeisters is a tiresome tactic. Its insane to execute a murderer!?!?!? Okay, so if your family was attacked by the BTK murderer, your mother tortured then raped then slowly suffocated, you wouldn't want the murderer executed??? I would. and I'd gladly be the executioner.

Now as for G-d "hating" shrimp. Another ignorant misquote from the Hebrew scripture. G-d commands Jews, and Jews only, not to eat shellfish for they are "unclean to you". Notice, it did not say unclean to G-d. The difference is that if one eats shellfish one does not become an abomination to G-d.

Now, I suggest that you study the scriptures before you open your mouth and make a bigger fool of yourself.

I'm very tired as I write t... (Below threshold)

I'm very tired as I write this but I thought I'd go ahead and try before departing for Dream Land tonight -- if I fail to complete a sentence or two and mistype, well, I won't be losing sleep over it and hope anyone else won't, either.

BUT, here ya' go: I do support (as much as I can "support") the death penalty. I think that us humans can and should by way of our corporate society exact a severe penalty for crimes against members of our society that requires of the guilty a punishment that -- well, here's where the logic gets fuzzy regardless of one's ideology -- because a death penalty does not effectively punish, as in outweigh/overrule, certain deplorable acts that some individuals commit/advance against others.

As in, I don't perceive the death penalty as a means by which society can exact a penalty that makes up for or otherwise compensates for the terrors that some humans commit. On the other hand, it's the only option after a point for some actions that exceed human tolerance, and after that, the issue of punishment seems to be an act of consideration for survivors more than anything. The death penalty, when enacted, provides survivors of certain horrible acts to at least reach a conclusion as to the dilemma of what to do about the guilty, whoever is responsible for something so horrid that having them removed entirely from the planet provides a degree of a conclusion or resolution to their awful experience.

For instance, example, Mohammed Atta is someone who I would have wholeheartedly supported a death penalty for, had he remained alive long enough to arrive at a sentencing for his deeds. I'd have supported same for several murders I've read about, and on...BUT, theologically, most of us want a good outcome for everyone. Even the most vile, if they can be "saved" from total anhialation (spelled? told you, I'm tired), it's preferrable from a Christian perspective, not in their human form, but spiritually.

If/when you believe in an afterlife, as a Christian, you really want all souls to go to Heaven, by repentance (theirs/mine/everyone's) and forgiveness. But you rely on the repentence to be sincere and God's judgement of their repentence to be perfect, such that He'll easily ferret out the crocodile crying evil masquereding liar from the sincerely repentent and devout.

As to the Old Testament insistence on vengeance, Christ says He paid the bill. He won, evil lost. In the game of eternal life, the case is closed, and Jesus conquered the issue once and for all...it overrides some of the Old Testament dedications to unresolved issues such that sacrifices and blood and vengeance and all that were required and would still be required had not Christ given what He did and resolved the issue with finality.

SO, that calls into question morally and theologically why anyone (and/or "anyone" as in society as a being comprised of all individuals in that society) would demand, require the death of another to compensate anything. As I wrote in my earlier comments when I was more alert than here, it also calls into necessity a comparison and evaluation of morality with theology and an arrival at a modified morality that accommodates the society (of various values and beliefs) while minding the theological sensitivities of everyone.

And society has arrived at, mostly, that a death penalty is the best that we can do to require recompensation from those who commit the worst offenses among us. Our failing is that we are human and not God and can't perceive the actual culpability of a person and have to rely on our best guesses ("proof") when all is said and done, and we make human errors. Such that some not guilty lose their lives in an even more horrible act by society: taking the life of an innocent person after unfairly judging them to die. In which case, society becomes responsible for even more horrible an act.

Worth the risk, most of us say. For some acts by some humans, a death penalty is understandable. But a life term without parole for other offenses is and often is an even worse sentence...either way, society takes the life of someone based upon the degree of wrongdoing they've committed and should in most of those circumstances, to my view.

Theologically speaking, I believe that God requires of us to take certain measures to protect and defend and I have written this before but here it is again: turning the other cheek does not mean that we are to lay down or cower before evil, but that we are to confront evil with authority. But that's theology and not society/the political, although most people really are motivated by their theology, they just avoid talking about it, given our social requirements of tolerance.

But, Jay, the nomenclature.... (Below threshold)

But, Jay, the nomenclature..."padre" means "father," and the title is only used for Catholic priests. Protestants are ministers, some pagans are ministers, even some satanists are ministers. But, "Father" (or, if you're Spanish, "Padre") is used to address a Catholic Priest and by Catholic Priests to refer to themselves.

Such that, "clergy" doesn't interchange with "padre" in a discussion of religious ideology in one generalized issue debate or deliberation and it confuses me from undertanding what the point is/was here (and why I asked).

Since I didn't read anything about Catholic Priests and/or Catholic instructions, I still puzzle at the confusion...I THINK you're pointing out what you perceive to be undue influence and I tend to agree with you about that one point, although if your logic is followed through to a conclusion, then religious ideology would be also placing any who ascribe to it an "undue influence" -- as in, thinking this way, any/all religion would be unfairly pressuring anyone to think/act in some negatively affected way.

Which I DON'T agree with, but it's a matter of perspective. If someone intends to anarchy, ANY restraints or counsel otherwise could be perceived as "undue influence" -- although I don't suggest you are, just using that as an example.

"As to the Old Testament... (Below threshold)

"As to the Old Testament insistence on vengeance, Christ says He paid the bill. He won, evil lost. In the game of eternal life, the case is closed, and Jesus conquered the issue once and for all...it overrides some of the Old Testament dedications to unresolved issues such that sacrifices and blood and vengeance and all that were required and would still be required had not Christ given what He did and resolved the issue with finality."

That is an insensitive and ignorant remark. The Torah (not the old testament which is offensive) does not say anything about "vengeance" in this case. Furthermore, the Christian belief in the afterlife and what happens does not serve justice here and now. Thank G-d there are Christians in this country that understand a just punishment for murder is death. The ones that don't get it, are not interested in the victims of violent crime.

Suzy, I'm going to plead ig... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Suzy, I'm going to plead ignorance on the "padres" remark. At that point, 1) I was tired of using the word "clergy," and B) I felt an informal, casual reference to them was warranted. That's the consequence of growing up watching "M*A*S*H" and similar shows -- I took "padre" to be a generic term, not Catholic-specific. San Diego's baseball team didn't help there.

In retrospect, "men and women of the cloth" or "o good and faithful shepherds" might have worked better, but "padres" had the advantage of being so much shorter.

I apologize for the poor choice. I certainly didn't intend to single out the Catholic clergy in this case. Thank you for catching me on that.







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