Skip to comments.Church opposes Iraq death penalty for archbishop's killer
Posted on 05/20/2008 1:08:24 PM PDT by NYer
The Archbishop of Kirkuk, Louis Sako, said on Monday that the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq opposed the death penalty passed by an Iraqi court on the convicted killer of an archbishop in Mosul.
"This conviction does not meet Christian values," the cleric told AFP when contacted by telephone. "We are not satisfied with this decision because the church is against the death penalty."
Iraqi authorities announced on Sunday that Ahmed Ali Ahmed had been sentenced to death for his involvement in the murder of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.
Archbishop Sako said the death sentence against a suspect "will also not help improve the situation" in Iraq which is plagued by sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites in addition to attacks against religious minorities.
He said the church had no details about the trial or the accused nor was it aware of the motives of the killers. It learnt about the sentencing from television.
"The announcement of the government gave very little detail. We do not know any of those responsible. We don't know why the archbishop was kidnapped,
whether it was due to political, religious or criminal intentions," he said.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraqi Central Criminal Court had sentenced Ahmed Ali Ahmed to death because of his involvement in the murder.
The cleric's body was found two weeks after he was kidnapped as he returned home after mass on February 29. The military had said they arrested a man directly involved in the murder two days after the body was found on March 13.
Dabbagh said Ahmed, also known as Abu Omar, was a wanted Al-Qaeda leader and was sentenced under anti-terrorism laws.
It was not known when the sentence would be carried out.
While Archbishop Sako shows his moral high-ground, the Al-Qaeda terrorist who certainly not only murdered the Bishop but also countless other Iraqis and also Americans has to be put to death, as ruled by court, for earthly punishment and because he is a threat.
The Archbishop must know more than is reported here.
The following report comes from Catholic News Agency and is more detailed.
.- Auxiliary Bishop Shlemo Warduni of Baghdad has rejected the death sentence the Iraqi government has handed down against Al Qaeda leader Ahmed Ali Ahmed, who participated in the kidnapping and murder of Catholic Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul.
In response to the news of the verdict against the man also know as Abu Omar, Bishop Warduni told the SIR news agency, We seek peace, security and reconciliation in Iraqthe things Archbishop Rahho strived for during his life and the things for which we continue working.
Archbishop Rahho would not have accepted such a sentence. Christian principles teach that it is not permissible to condemn anyone to death and they invite us to forgiveness, reconciliation and justice. The Church in Iraq is interested in peace, security and reconciliation in the country, Bishop Warduni said.
The news of Ahmeds death sentence was announced by the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh. A date for his execution has not yet been fixed. Archbishop Raho was kidnapped on February 29 and found dead on March 13.
It seems to me, as a prudential matter, that since Pope John Paul II said that conditions in advanced Western societies are such that the death penalty would not likely be necessary to serve the purposes of justice, an unsettled polity such as Iraq right now might in fact be a society where the death penalty may well be necessary, since if the government is overthrown, it is not clear if the perpetrator of crimes like this assassin would get justice under a change of regime. I believe that the death penalty for Saddam and his sons are justified for the same reason. Just my two cents.
The Catholic Church is against the death penalty just as it is opposed to abortion—it is uniformly pro-life—I like the consistency of the message.
Me, too. Pro life is... being for life in all forms. Even the ugly ones we don't like. Because as soon as wee start saying "You're too damaged to live", it quickly follows that that same argument is applied to abortion.
I am not always as strict an adherent to the anti-death penalty position of the RCC as I would like to be and need to be, and I appreciate the reminder from the Holy Father when it comes up.
Abortion is something that is always and everywhere wrong, and is classified this way in canon law, but the position on the death penalty is fairly new and is not a matter of Church doctrine. The former Pope was very opposed to it, however, and I think he projected his opposition.
Personally, I think there are times when it’s necessary, because there are some people who are going to kill again even if they’re in jail for life (they’ll kill a guard or another inmate).
I think in this case, you’re simply seeing Christian forgiveness, such as that of Maria Goretti. And many prayers for the killer’s conversion. I was pretty sure that Church officials would ask for the killer to be spared. Also, it is safer for the Church in Iraq if this man is not put to death.
This is what makes Christianity better than Islam. But the Muzzies will never see it, or understand it.
We teach by example. You would be amazed at how many Muslims are swayed by the Christian lifestyle. I know a priest in Lebanon who welcomed 65 Moslems into the Catholic faith last year - simply by demonstrating Christ in his own life and encouraging other Catholics to do the same. That is what Jesus taught us to do.
I understand your political view of the situation; however, it does not follow that we should support it. If anything, one should be impressed by the fact that the government has acknowledged the error in killing another human over difference in religious belief. That is progress!
Jesus entrusted the deposit of faith to the Catholic Church through Peter and the Apostles, commanding them to go forth and preach the good news to all nations. He assured the Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. In its 2,000 year history, not one pope has ever erred in matters of doctrine on faith or morals. That long track record exceeds every government or nation or corporation that has ever existed, testimony to the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Catholic Church. Thank you for the post!
That is not correct. The Church does not, and never has, equated abortion with the death penalty. What you’re describing is the dubious “seamless garment” theory, which is NOT Church teaching, but a theological theory. It’s not a doctrine, and some would say its heresy.
As Ratzinger himself explained when he was a Cardinal, there is a very great difference between willful destruction of innocent life, and a society’s obligation to protect its members from a convicted murderer. St. Thomas speculated about the possible redemptive influence of Capital Punishment in possibly obviating eternal punishment.
While many bishops and priests might personally have positions against Capital Punishment, and it’s true the Catechism is indeed quite strict in stipulating when it can be applied (as a last resort, serious offense, right of State to protect citizens, and so forth) the Church teaching has never opposed it de facto or absolutely.
This is all very clearly explained in the CCC, which I can quote for you if wanted.
I wrote: Me, too. Pro life is... being for life in all forms. Even the ugly ones we don't like. Because as soon as wee start saying "You're too damaged to live", it quickly follows that that same argument is applied to abortion.
From a practical point of view, that is true.
Also (willing to be corrected if I am incorrect), I cannot recall a death-penalty case that the Church was even neutral on when asked in decades.
I see what you mean, yes.
It’s very popular and trendy in the new ‘social justice’ AmChurch approach for bishops, especially together as a Conference, to come out opposing the death penalty as if it’s the moral high ground. They are not stating the official policy or doctrine of the Church, however. I wonder if it really is the moral high ground?
Let me propose, for another perspective, something I wish bishops might consider. In the USA, 40 percent of convicted murderers on death row (so we are talking about the most violent and non-reformable violent criminals of our society) killed their victims while on probation, parole or bail for another crime. 10 percent of convicted murderers on death row had previously committed murder! Now, if the 10 percent who were already murderers had received capital punishment for the first killing, hundreds of lives would have been saved, murders prevented.
So my thought is it’s possible the bishops (especially when they move this into the political arena instead of just explaining the religious aspects, or do not distinguish their own opinion from Church teaching) are not only interfering with what is the proper authority of the state based on the will of the electorate, but by in essence advocating release or lighter sentences for killers, they end up being culpable for many, many more lives being taken.