Conservative Oklahoma Archbishop Speaks Out Against The Death Penalty

According to the publication “Patheos,” on April 30th last year – the day after the bungled execution of Oklahoma prisoner Clayton Lockett – the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the unprecedented execution of the convicted killer underscored the brutality of the death penalty and urged Oklahomans to weigh carefully the demands of justice and mercy.

On April 29, in McAlester, Oklahoma, the planned execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett – using a new three-drug lethal injection protocol – failed.

It left Lockett showing unexpected signs of pain and Oklahoma prison officials decided to halt the proceedings. Lockett reportedly later died of a “heart attack.”

Paul Coakley, the Catholic archbishop, said: “How we treat criminals says a lot about us as a society.”

He stated, “We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” said Coakley.

“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” he said, according to Patheos.

“In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in last night’s execution in any way – including Lockett himself, his family, prison officials and others who witnessed the event. My compassion and prayers go out especially to the family of Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett was convicted of killing.”

More:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2014/04/archbishop-coakleys-statement-on-oklahomas-botched-execution/#ixzz3VtfEHNcf

(Updated post to remove the term “Catholic publication”)

NYT Op-Ed: Birth Control And The Pope

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes about what the confessors at his mother’s Catholic church would tell her about birth control.

“’Forgive me, Father,’ she’d say time and again, in church after church, to confessor after confessor. ‘I use contraception.’”

“She never met a priest who didn’t respond with some version of the following, and I’m paraphrasing…

“’Of course you do. You’re sane. Ignore Rome. Forget about the pope. There’s La-La Land, and then there’s the real world, in which you are clearly living. Say three Hail Marys because it can never hurt, and be on your way.’”

On the papal airplane, en route from the Philippines back to Italy, the pope reflected on the relationship between third-world poverty and extra-large families.

He told reporters that Catholics needn’t feel compelled to breed “like rabbits.”

Rev. James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College, said “He’s wildly practical.”

“Keenan stated that while he didn’t hear, in the pope’s reference to rabbits, any clear challenge to traditional teaching, he heard a change in emphasis…

“I don’t remember, ever, a pope saying to Catholics that they should be mindful of how many children they’re having,” states Keenan, adding that Francis’s statement was significant for that reason. “Did he intend it to be? I have no idea. When he says things, you don’t know if they’re off the cuff or not, because he’s so out there. He’s exciting that way.”

Bruni points out that at sometimes the pope sounds traditional, “like any old pope,” but at other times the pope sounds like the parish priests encountered by his mother.

Huff Post: Right-Wing Catholics Come Up With Conspiracy Theory To Go Against Pope

POPE FRANCIS

NEW YORK (RNS) Was there a secret plot to elect Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the papal conclave last year?

Conservative Catholics have found a conspiracy theory to explain how a relatively liberal pope was elected.

The furor stems from a behind-the-scenes account of the March 2013 conclave, presented in a new book about Pope Francis titled “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.”

In the last chapter of the biography, which focuses on Bergoglio’s early life in Argentina and career as a Jesuit, author Austen Ivereigh delivers an insider account of how a group of cardinals who wanted a reformer pope quietly sought to rally support for Bergoglio in the days leading up to the conclave.

The problem is:  isn’t it normal to rally support for your favorite candidate?

Ivereigh called Francis’ boosters “Team Bergoglio.” They were led by reform-minded European churchmen like Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of England, who Ivereigh once worked for, and German prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has become a trusted theological adviser to Francis.

At one point, Ivereigh writes that members of “Team Bergoglio” sought the Argentine cardinal’s “assent” that he would not refuse the papacy if the voting turned his way.

Why would he refuse assent? Is he supposed to refuse assent? The pope before him didn’t refuse assent when he was elected.

During the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio reportedly refused to take up the papacy when he was running second to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would eventually be elected Pope Benedict XVI.

However, in 2013, after the resignation of Benedict, Bergoglio “said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the Church no cardinal could refuse if asked,” writes Ivereigh.

In conclaves, cardinals often signal whether they would refuse or go along with an election, if it happened.

While overt politicking is strongly discouraged, and conclave rules expressly forbid dealmaking, cardinals often coalesce in camps behind one contender or another.

When Ivereigh’s book was published last month (he personally presented a copy to Francis), media accounts of the politics of the conclave prompted some to question whether Bergoglio himself was involved by giving the go-ahead, and whether that could undermine the legitimacy of his election.

But how could a pope give the “go-ahead” for his own election?  He’s elected by others, not by himself.

Regardless, Murphy-O’Connor’s press secretary wrote a letter to a British newspaper saying that no approach had been made to Bergoglio seeking his assent.

On Dec. 1st, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement saying the cardinals cited “have expressly denied this description of events, both in terms of the demand for a prior consent by Cardinal Bergoglio and with regard to the conduct of a campaign for his election.”

However, Ivereigh said he stands by his reporting, but he regretted phrasing the episode to make it seem that Bergoglio had been approached about being a candidate and gave his backers encouragement.

“That never happened and I am sorry that I gave the impression that’s what happened,” Ivereigh told Religion News Service. “I think the whole chapter makes clear that he never had any role at all in his own election.”

Ivereigh said he was trying to show that as opposed to the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio’s supporters in 2013 “were convinced he wouldn’t resist his election.”

“The conclave rules do not prevent cardinals from urging other cardinals to vote for a particular person,” he added. “And indeed that is exactly what happens. That is part of the discernment that happens in a papal election.”

Ivereigh said he will be changing the wording of one paragraph in future editions of the book to clarify Bergoglio’s role.

Whether that will satisfy the critics is unclear.

Is A U.S. Catholic Group Going ‘Liberal?’

According to the right-wing publication Breitbart, the Sisters of Mercy of Silver Spring, Maryland, have released a 2014 midterm election guide that urges voters to favor candidates who support amnesty, climate change, gun control, and Pentagon budget cuts.

The election guide states:

“As sisters, associates, companions, co-workers, students, volunteers and friends of the Sisters of Mercy, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to vote for those candidates who share our concern for people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education; candidates who share the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns of Earth, immigration, nonviolence, racism and women. While this is not a presidential election year, the voice of Mercy is needed to inject compassion into conversations on policy and on national priorities during Senate, congressional, state and local races that will shape our nation for years to come.

“We are called to vote for those who are equally scandalized by these ills and who have a vision for addressing them,” the Sisters write. “And we are called to help shape that vision.”

The nuns’ election guide is geared to “U.S. residents,” rather than “U.S. citizens,” and it features a series of questions that the nuns say “will help those U.S. residents listen to candidates with an ear attuned to the Sisters of Mercy’s over-arching mission.”

The Sisters’ questions address how candidates address the “need for poverty reduction programs,” or welfare programs, what they refer to as “the wealth gap,” and the federal minimum wage. They also emphasize the Obama administration’s talking point that 8 million people have enrolled in the healthcare exchanges created by the new law.

Regarding climate change, the Sisters of Mercy suggest voters should note whether candidates speak about the issue with “urgency.”

“How will the candidates work with the world community to address climate change, the impact of mining, the loss of important ecosystems and biodiversity, and the human right to safe food, safe water and sanitation?” the nuns ask.

According to Breitbart, “the Sisters list as a ‘fact’ in their guide:”

“Climate change is already affecting the American people in far-reaching ways. Certain types of extreme weather events with links to climate change have become more frequent and/or intense, including prolonged periods of heat, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. In addition, warming is causing sea level to rise and glaciers and Arctic sea ice to melt, and oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide. These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging some sectors of our economy (2014 National Climate Assessment).”

Writing that their order recognizes “an urgent duty and challenge to stand in solidarity with immigrants seeking fullness of life,” the Sisters are critical of what they believe to be “President Obama’s record mass deportations…”