Saturday, May 15, 2010

Catholics and the glamour of evil

I'm going to say up front that I'm for the death penalty in certain cases. If you aren't that's okay. We can disagree. I don't want to change your mind. I mention that because I'm irritated right now, no, disgusted at what I read on two Catholic blogs yesterday. A man was executed for a spree killing murder and the bloggers and comenters were far more sympathetic to him than to the families of his victims.

Some people say that Catholics are just following along with the rest of the world and that this sympathetic, therapeutic view of killers started with "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. Capote's book was primarily about two miserable human beings who slaughtered an entire family. People pitied the killers but forgot all about the victims which angers their families and the townsfolk to this day. Whenever I think of "In Cold Blood," I think, not of the two twisted young men but of Farmer Clutter and the agony he must have felt as he lay tied up in his basement and realized that there was nothing he could do to save his wife and kids or himself.

But back to the recent execution. The two bloggers who commented seemed really disturbed that the widow of one of the murder victims said, "Sorry doesn't cut it," and that she wanted the killer to quit making excuses and admit to what he did. Well, I'm standing with the widow.
"Gee ma'am I'm sorry that I blew your husband's brains out and robbed him as he lay dying but it wasn't my fault. I had a bad childhood. I'm depraved because I'm deprived. We're square now, okay?," does not cut it.

In this case the killer seems to have made a conversion, thanks be to God. He said the rosary before he died. The victims families were not impressed which also upset the bloggers who seemed to suggest that the killer is more righteous than the families. We don't know the state of anyone's soul. Think about the victims who didn't have the comfort of last rites and probably didn't have enough time to repent of their sins. Sit with the widows and watch them try to figure out how to go on. Listen to the orphans cry. Visit with someone who remembers what it's like to go to the morgue and indentify a loved ones horribly disfigured body. Don't just point fingers at the families and airily say, "You just need to forgive, you bad people." That just comes off as smug and presumptuous. Besides I thought Christians were supposed to have a special sympathy for the widow and the orphan. I didn't see any of that on display on those blogs. I hope these poor folks can find peace and forgiveness but shaking fingers at them doesn't help the process. Where is the compassion for these suffering, forgotten people who have been through so much pain and agony for so long? The glamour of evil really is stupefying.


Anonymous said...


Old Bob said...

Hi, Dymphna, great post, A+, thank you!

Johannes said...

´Those that are kind to the cruel, will be cruel to the kind´.

Old Jewish proverb.

Baron Korf said...

It's a difficult thing to balance. The victims should accept his apology, but accepting the apology does not equate to commuting the sentence as he needs to atone for his crime. I hope they can forgive at some point, by divine grace (I don't know how else you could forgive such a thing).

I agree that the death penalty can and should be used, but we cannot allow it to be a tool of vengence.

msc said...

As the Pope said recently regarding the sexual abuse scandals in the church, "forgivness does not cancel out justice".

Of course, who in their right mind would not have compassion for the suffering of the loved ones left behind. Having said that you will not convince me that killing someone else will make what horror that has happened somehow become better or even more bearable!

Christ didn't tell us to fogive 'with conditions'! And yes killers especially mass murderers should spend the rest of their lives in jail.

Unknown said...

In my journey through RCIA, I had to reconcile my faith and the church teachings with my profession, which was in corrections. I had all types telling me about what they thought the teachings were on the death penalty; and usually they were incorrect. I discovered in the process things that the anti-capital punishment willfully ignored- Paul specifically said (Romans 13, 3-4) that the rulers have the sword for a purpose. Now what is strange is that section of Romans does not appear in any reading, not in a daily or Sunday or anytime. One of the social justice types told me specifically he wished it wasn't in the bible. That is why John Paul 2 didn't exclude capital punishment

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"I agree that the death penalty can and should be used, but we cannot allow it to be a tool of vengence."

Some prefer making psychiatry a tool of vengeance.

Because it is seen as merciful and never denounced as such - and because it hurts more than prison, certainly, and perhaps at least in some cases more than death penalty, probably.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Don't just point fingers at the families and airily say, 'You just need to forgive, you bad people.' That just comes off as smug and presumptuous."

Also true when said to victims of psychiatry.