To the editor:
A legislative summer storm stirred up (when) New York State Senator Serphin Maltese of Queens managed to win a majority vote in the Senate for the restoration of the death penalty in the Empire State, especially to those who kill law enforcement officers. The Cherish Life Circle, an anti-death penalty group in Senator Maltese’s district has taken the Senator to task.
Senator Maltese’s proposal goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church and ignores the commandment: Thou shalt not kill. No one, neither individual nor state, has the right to kill. To deny this is to accept irrationality. Our laws do not allow us to rob the robber or rape the rapist. Why should they allow us to kill the killer? Are we not called to a higher standard of behavior than that of those whom we condemn?
The late Pope John Paul II clarified the Catholic Church’s official teaching by insisting that the only time the government can take a life is when there is no other way to prevent the killer from killing again. Life in prison without parole satisfies that condition insofar as it is humanly possible to do so. The European Union, composed of the nations from which many of our ancestors came, denies membership to any country that has a death penalty. It would exclude, for example, China, Iraq and the United States.
The struggle in New York state could erupt anywhere and so, The Cherish Life Circle urges prayer and conversation around this divisive issue. Those in agreement with their position would do well to let their elected representatives know that they want no killing done in their name and at taxpayers’ expense.
Sister Camille D’Arienzo, RSM
NYS Steering Committee Against the Death Penalty
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sister D’Arienzo indicated that the letter also is supported by the following: John and Roseanne Cleary; Sister Colleen Colbert, OP; Robert Lohrey; Sister Mary O’Connor, RSM; Nancy Peck; Rev. Michael Perry; Sister Kathleen Quinn, RSM; Louise Simon; Jean Smith; and Rev. Joseph Towle.