Today's Top Ten
1. Vatican: Execution punished 'a crime with another crime'
While the Islamic world's debate on Saddam Hussein's execution seems largely centered on its timing, initial responses from Christian leaders seem to largely recycle the longstanding debate on whether capital punishment can ever be used. The Vatican's line on the subject seems unequivocal. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican's press office, issued this official statement:
Capital punishment is always tragic news, a motive of sadness, even when it's a case of a person guilty of grave crimes.
The position of the Catholic Church against the death penalty has been confirmed many times.
The execution of the guilty party is not a path to reconstruct justice and to reconcile society. Indeed, there is the risk that, on the contrary, it may augment the spirit of revenge and sow seeds of new violence.
In this dark time in the life of the Iraqi people, it can only be hoped that all the responsible parties truly will make every effort so that, in this dramatic situation, possibilities of reconciliation and peace may finally be opened.
The National Catholic Reporter has other Catholic officials' comments. Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said the execution answered "a crime with another crime. No one can give death, not even the state."
"It's not that we don't recognize Saddam was guilty of horrendous crimes," an unnamed senior Vatican official said. "But we don't believe that the death penalty is justified, even in such cases."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a bit more nuanced:
The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility ...1