To: Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha
Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln
Most Rev. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, Bishop Grand Island
cc: Governor Pete Ricketts, his cabinet & staff
Nebraska Supreme Court
Nebraska County SheriffsThe Police Officers' Association of NebraskaAttorney General Doug Peterson & staff
Nebraska County Attorneys AssociationNebraska Crime Commission
U of Nebraska Law School Media throughout Nebraska
Subject: Nebraska Catholic Leadership: Their False Teachings & the Death Penalty
From : Dudley Sharp
Catholic leadership, in Nebraska, as elsewhere, keep the death penalty truth away from their flock.
That claim is supported, in detail, below and here (1).
The Nebraska Bishops are presenting error after error, week after week (1). It is long overdue to end it.
1) The Truth: All Catholics May Support the Death Penalty
All good and faithful Catholics may, now, support the death penalty, may support more executions and may, faithfully and thoughtfully, disagree with the Church's post 1995/1997 death penalty restrictions.
The Bishops False Teachings:
With the title of "3. Prudence, schmrudence…” (2), the Nebraska Bishops, immaturely and disrespectfully, accuse Catholics of "acting like two year olds", when those "two year old" Catholics say that the 1995/1997 Catholic teachings on the death penalty are matters of prudential judgement and, because of that, such "two year old" Catholics find that all good Catholics may support the death penalty and more executions based upon prudential judgement. (2).
The Evidence Against the Bishops:
Let's look at the blatant errors and insulting language of the Bishops and who they call "two year olds":
The most prominent of the "two year olds" are three members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) , the most authoritative voice for valid teachings within the Church:
-- Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of CDF
-- Cardinal-Prefect of CDF Joseph Ratzinger (1981-2005), currently Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
-- Cardinal-Prefect of CDF William Levada (2005- 2012), who, currently, serves as Prefect emeritus of CDF
-- as well as all good and thoughtful Catholics who find the death penalty just and appropriate, while also finding that it saves more innocent lives.
These first two were delivered to the US Catholic Bishops, but have not been presented by the Bishops to their Nebraska congregations - an intentional and major error of omission:
Cardinal-Prefect Ratzinger/Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (2004):
"3. ". . . if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
"Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from a memorandum sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick, made public in the first week of July 2004.
confirmed by Cardinal-Prefect William Levada (2004):
". . . if a Catholic were to disagree with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment… he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion... While the Church exhorts civil authorities… to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible… to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about… applying the death penalty, but not with regard to abortion and euthanasia." “Theological Reflections on Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion,” a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document.
2) The Truth:
This is another non-disclosure by the Nebraska Bishops, undermining the truth and their flock:
In reference to the death penalty errors by Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae (EV - 1995) and the wrongful inclusion of those errors into the amended Section 2267 of the CCC, Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor CDF, writes:
“The most reasonable conclusion to draw from this discussion is that, once again, the Catechism is simply wrong from an historical point of view. Traditional Catholic teaching did not contain the restriction enunciated by Pope John Paul II (within Evangelium Vitae - EV)." (3).
That EV restriction was the foundation for the recent (1997) error filled change to Church teaching on the death penalty (4) and without that foundation that recent changes can be found invalid.
Flannery continues: “The realm of human affairs is a messy one, full of at least apparent inconsistency and incoherence, and the recent teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment — vitiated, as I intend to show, by errors of historical fact and interpretation—is no exception.” (3).
A review of some of the problems within the amended CCC 2267 (4).
NOTE: Flannery was appointed by Pope John Paul II.
3) More Bishops' False Teachings:
The Bishops state:
"According to Catholic teaching, the state may impose the death penalty if this punishment is the only available means to protect society. Therefore, this option should not be exercised when, other, non lethal means, more respectful of human life are available." "This principled Catholic response is shaped by our commitment to the life and dignity of every human person and the common good." (5).
Additional False Teachings of the Bishops:
a) The Bishops, again, intentionally leave out relevant Catholic teachings, paragraphs (1) and (2), above, misleading their flock.
b) Establishing a false and irrational standard - if the death penalty "is the only available means to protect society" - should not be accepted by anyone.
Rationally and traditionally, the standard should be 1) what is the most just sanction for the crime committed, reasserted as the primary teaching, as "redress", in the most recent CCC, and 2) which sanction will, after the primary just consideration, protect society to a greater degree than other sanctions (6).
The Bishops know that to be the death penalty, as previously reviewed (1,6).
The additional reason that "the only available means" is a false teaching is that it, intentionally, avoids reality.
For example, "the state may impose incarceration on priests who sexually prey on children if this punishment is the only available means to protect children."
For decades, the Church thought there was another available means to protect children. The Church was wrong, then, just as She is, now.
Reality, you see, matters.
For example, the state of the criminal justice system, in the US, since 1973:
Some 16,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (6) and
Some 400,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have allowed to harm, again - recidivist criminals. (6)
Does the US have the means to do better? Of course. Have they? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The Bishops are very aware of this, but look the other way, insisting on the fictional standard - "means available", in opposition to reality, thereby sacrificing more innocents.
The Bishops state: "It just so happens that in our time the Church has assessed the options and has come to the prudential conclusion that in our modern era non-lethal means are present practically everywhere. Therefore, the use of the death penalty should be “very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (2).
. . . which is rebutted by known reality, as detailed above and here (6).
c) As is well known by many, inclusive of the Bishops, the foundation for 2000 years of pro death penalty Catholic teaching is based upon "respect for human life", a "commitment to the life and dignity of every human person and the common good."
What the Bishops and other anti death penalty Church leadership are, now, saying is that for 2000 years the Church supported a sanctions that did not respect human life, was against life, against the dignity of every human person and against the common good.
Thoughtful Catholics understand that such is not true and cannot be true.
4) The Bishops Four "FALSE" Reasons to Abolish the Death Penalty (5)
a) "Re-instating the death penalty would risk innocent lives". - False
Bishops' false teachings:
-- As the Bishops well know and have never rebutted (1), innocents are better protected with the death penalty, in three ways, than with life without parole (LWOP) (6).
The Bishop's death penalty repeal position will sacrifice more innocent lives.
-- Bishops: "Take for example the story of Kirk Bloodsworth. Kirk spent nearly 9 years on death row in Maryland after he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Donna Hamilton." " . . . more than 150 people sentenced to death have been released from death row because they were acquitted, dismissed from prosecution or pardoned based upon evidence of innocence." (4)
More false problems for the Bishops
Bloodsworth was never at risk of execution. He was on death row for 2 years, not 9, and then 7 years serving a life sentence, prior to release.
In the modern era death penalty, post Gregg v Georgia (1976), Maryland has executed four murderers, who appealed their sentences and were executed, averaging 12 years from sentence to execution, with the shortest being 9 years.
Three time Maryland murderer, Thanos, waived his appeals and was executed in 1994, 2 years after his sentencing.
Thanos, to the victim's families: "(your murdered childrens') cries bring laughter from the darkest caverns of my soul. I don't believe I could satisfy my thirst yet in this matter unless I was to be able to dig these brats' bones up out of their graves right now and beat them into powder and urinate on them and then stir it into a murky yellowish elixir and serve it up to their loved ones".
Thanos murdered Billy Winebrenner, 16, and his girlfriend, Melody Pistorio, 14, during a robbery and murdered Gregory Allen Taylor, 18, in another crime, for which he was, also, sentenced to death.
-- The 150 (now 156) represent, maybe 36 actually innocent people sent to death row (0.4% of the total), all but one of which has been set free, with that one dying on death row, from cancer, just as he would have serving LWOP.
It is a remarkable record of accuracy.
There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s.
Yet we have:
Some 16,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (6) and
Some 400,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have allowed to harm, again - recidivist criminals (6).
A rational assessment would be that the Bishops real concern is not innocents at risk, but only sparing murderers.
Exactly as Catholic theologian Steven Long assessed:
"The misbegotten application of categories of speech appropriate in regard to the murder of innocents to the vastly different application of just penalty for grave evil, is symptomatic of a society that can garner more support to spare the guilty than to save the innocent."
"The crowd still wants Barrabas." (1b)
b) "Reinstating the death penalty would be cruel to victims' families." (4). - False
The Bishops' hypocrisy and false teachings:
1) As per the video (5), because of long appeals times, the Bishops contend that the death penalty harms the victims' families. The Bishops, constantly, use false, secular anti death penalty rhetoric, as they do, here. How about reality:
These problems are not the death penalty's fault. It is the fault of the sanction's managers - the legislature, governor, attorney generals, judges, etc.
As the Bishops are well aware:
-- There have been nearly 1000 executions in other states, over the last 20 years, when Nebraska has had none and
-- Virginia has executed 112 murderers, since 1976, and has done so within 7 years of appeals, on average.
The Bishops are very aware that Nebraska has the "means available" to duplicate those two examples, but chose a less responsible path, instead.
2) From the 168 victims in the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Bishops use only one anti death penalty voice, Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was murdered in that bombing, to speak in opposition to the death penalty.
The Bishops also presented Mariam Thimm Kelle, whose brother, Jim, was, gruesomely, tortured over a long period of time, then murdered in a capital crime, by murderer Michael Ryan, Her complaints were that appeals go on and on and that way too much attention is paid to the murderer but not to her brother.
Reality Opposes the Bishops, Again.
It appears that in excess of 95% of the murder victims' survivors, from that bombing, are in favor of the death penalty (7), reflecting other examples, with similar huge support percentages, from other specific death penalty eligible murders (7).
Did the Bishops show any interest in the opinions of those loved ones, who, overwhelmingly, support the death penalty? None that they made known.
Such is common for anti death penalty folks, who often cause more harm (8) to those victim survivors, who support the justice of the death penalty, as well as its uncontested ability to protect additional innocents, to a higher degree than any other sanction (6).
Thimm Kelle is right to complain, but Nebraska, as other states have the means necessary to shorten appeals, as detailed and as the Bishops well know.
Anti death penalty folks and the media, overwhelmingly, concentrate on the murderers and not their victims (8). It would be great if the Bishops would start a public campaign to help change that. Possibly, the Bishops could start with this group (9).
c) The Bishops say the death penalty is too costly: "It is well established that pursuing the death penalty results in considerably greater costs than life imprisonment. The non partisan Death Penalty Information Center concluded, in 2013, that Nebraska had spent $100 million on death penalty cases since 1976."
More Bishop False Teachings
-- The Death Penalty Information Center is a very well known anti death penalty group, which perpetrates some of the greatest deceptions in the death penalty debate.
-- The Bishops are, completely, unaware, because they do not fact check.
-- If the Bishops did fact check, they would know that some studies find the death penalty is less costly than life without parole (LWOP) (10) and that many of the studies finding the death penalty more expensive than LWOP are, completely, unreliable (10).
But, the Bishops will not fact check.
--- The Bishops are well aware that in Nebraska's last legislative session, that three fiscal notes found no state savings in death penalty repeal.
Such non disclosure reflects, again, very poorly, on the Bishops.
d) The Bishops find that the death penalty less humane than LWOP.
The Bishops should review the eternal reasons for the death penalty, detailed in 2000 years of Catholic teachings (1), as opposed to relying upon the secular.
1) a) Catholic Bishops: So Wrong on Death Penalty, 9/3/16,
b) Four Catholic Journals Indulge in (anti death penalty) Doctrinal Solipsism,
Stephen Long, THOMISTICA, March 5, 2015,
c) The Bishops, constantly, invoke secular anti death penalty errors, without fact checking. Fact checking is required. This is my basic pro death penalty introduction, countering all basic anti death penalty claims used by the Bishops. Fact checking welcome.
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents
d) "Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment", Part 1, Edward Feser , Joseph M. Bessette, Catholic World Report, July 17, 2016,http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4928/why_the_church_cannot_reverse_past_teaching_on_capital_punishment.aspx
"Why the Death Penalty is Still Necessary", Part 2, Edward Feser, Joseph M. Bessette, Catholic Word Report, July 21, 2016,
e) Rebuttal of Four Catholic Publications Call For End to Capital Punishment,
f) New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming
2) 3 WAYS CATHOLICS MISUNDERSTAND THE DEATH PENALTY, Archdiocese of Omaha, August 23, 2016,
3) “Capital Punishment and the Law”, Ave Maria Law Review, 2007 (30 pp), Kevin L. Flannery S.J., Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 2002) and Ordinary Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University(Rome) and Permanent Research Fellow - Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture (University of Notre Dame)
4) Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position:
The Catechism & Section 2267
5) Watch the video first.
VIDEO: ARCHBISHOP LUCAS ON THE DEATH PENALTY, Archdiocese of Omaha, 8/3/16, http://archomaha.org/2016/10/video-archbishop-lucas-death-penalty/
6) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
The Catechism and State Protection
7) 95% Death Penalty Support by Capital Murder Survivors
8) Anti Victim: Anti Death Penalty Movement
9) Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims
10) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty