As the nation reels from yet another deadly shooting spree, this time at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va., is urging mercy for convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad, saying his capital sentence should be commuted to life in prison without chance of parole.
The bishop called the lethal injection that Muhammad is scheduled to receive on Nov. 10 a "manifestation of despair," according to a CNS story.
"And in this despair, in advocating the use of the death penalty, our society has moved beyond the legitimate judgment of crimes," Bishop Loverde wrote in the Nov. 5 issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald. "Brothers and sisters, we are better than this. We are called to be more than slaves to despair; we are called to be heralds of hope."
Muhammad went on a three-week killing spree in the Washington, D.C., are in 2002 that left 10 people dead and three others wounded. His partner in killing, Lee Boyd Malvo, was 17 at the time and is already serving a life sentence.
Bishop Loverde touched on the difficulty of Church teaching on capital punishment, especially when the sometimes-normal reaction to such tragic crimes is a desire for revenge:
"It is understandable for us -- all of us, myself included -- to have these reactions, and to be outraged at the way in which innocent lives were so senselessly taken, with their families left to mourn and to ask questions which have no satisfactory answers...We are called to choose hope -- hope in redemption of an immortal soul -- over the despair embedded in the death penalty."
Click HERE to read the CNS story.