- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Not All Doctrine Is Created Equal
Where were the bishops when Troy Davis died?
On September 21, 2011, a man’s life ended. His death was not natural; it was not a product of anyone’s god; rather, the drug cocktails that caused the heart of Troy Davis to stop beating were purely the result of human artifice.
Davis was a convicted murderer who was put to death by the State of Georgia as punishment for the crimes of which he was found guilty. Like so many other death row inmates who were wrongly convicted of—and sometimes even executed for—crimes they did not commit, Troy Davis may well have been innocent. There was no physical evidence proving his crime, and many of the eywitnesses upon whom Davis’ conviction depended later recanted their testimony, citing undue pressure from prosecutors to finger the person they had apparently already decided was responsible. In the end, however, whether or not Troy Davis was guilty or not is merely salt in the wound of a far bigger outrage.
The Catholic Church officially opposes capital punishment. This doctrine is in the same vein as those opposing abortion, birth control, and physician-assisted suicide: church doctrine dictates that life begins at conception and is a gift from God. Consequently, it is beyond the scope of any soul, no matter how high the earthly authority, to terminate a human life. It does not matter if it is legal, and it does not matter if the rationale is to relieve suffering: the taking of life is God’s department, not ours.
Yet in the middle of September, as opposition to the impending execution of Troy Davis reached a fever pitch and a singular opportunity presented itself for the Church to not just call for an act of mercy, but support a key element of doctrine, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was silent as the grave. Yes, some local Catholic bishops in Georgia did support the conscience of their doctrine by calling for a reprieve, but the USCCB, the organization most responsible for lobbying and policy advocacy on behalf of the Holy See here in the United States, sat idly by. The execution of a possibly innocent man was not enough to stir the bishops into action. But birth control? That’s a different story altogether.
The directive of President Obama’s Health and Human Services Department that requires employers to cover the cost of contraceptive prescriptions was met with outrage by the USCCB. Never before, they argued, had citizens been forced to pay for things that violated their religious conscience. Not that the Church would have been forced to cover the cost of contraceptives: churches who objected receive an exemption under the directive. The Bishops even rejected a compromise that allowed women who work for affiliated organizations, such as nonprofits and hospitals, to obtain contraceptive coverage directly from an insurer, as opposed to through their employer. Apparently, preserving the “religious conscience” of an insurance company was ground that these bishops simply would not cede.
One could commend the bishops’ commitment to principle if it were based on any sincerity. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case. Our tax dollars subsidize executions in every state where they are conducted, as well as pay for the wars and occupations that offend a true Catholic conscience, yet these bishops will not lift a finger to stop the execution of one possibly innocent man, let alone work to prevent their believers from paying for these egregious violations of doctrine.
Yes, the hypocrisy is shameful, and it serves as yet another reminder that in this mean-spirited age, the only doctrines that conservatives deem worth standing up for are those that punish and impede, rather than those that demonstrate any inkling of compassion and mercy.
- Editor's note: This story originally published February 19, 2012 at DailyKos.com. Photo by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
The large crowds attending Dahlonega's Bear on the Square Mountain Festival come each year to the Georgia Mountain foothills town expecting to be entertained by the better known activities, including the constant jamming by visiting and local musicians, the Friday night Auction, and the MainStage Tent musical performances and Artist Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays. There are a large number of other less publicized activities during this festival, which will be taking place the fourth weekend of April around Dahlonega's Historic Public Square. This will be the town's 18th annual celebration of the Southern Appalachian culture, including music, art and folkways, and Read on →
Do the 2014 elections look promising for the Democrats? Not so far as I can tell. Do the Democrats have a bold plan to inspire the American people to turn the House back over to them? Not so far as I’ve heard. Is there a solution available? I think there is. We’ve got a Supreme Court that just doubled down on its disgraceful 2010 decision in Citizens United, continuing in the new case (McCutcheon vs. FEC) to pretend to believe that opening the floodgates still wider for big money to flow into our elections does not corrupt our political system. And we’ve got poll Read on →
That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young. Like they don’t have car accidents and sports injuries, etc? (Read the other day that there’s a chance auto and workmen’s comp insurance rates are going to decrease now that people have health insurance. Ripple effect). He went on to observe that “Kenny and Tracy hav Read on →
You knew in the beginning it was folly, no good -- like that girl who lived around the corner your Momma said was "fast." “She's gonna take your money and your stomp on your heart,” Momma said. You knew it too ... but you went anyway. YOU You promised yourself you would not get involved this time. You knew all about the probabilities ... the impossibilities, really. You knew all about the odds against success, heard Nate Silver -- or somebody -- use $5 words like “implacable,” “infinitesimal” and “asymptotic” to assure Charlie Rose the odds were ridiculous. And yes, you knew it was a Fool's Notion Read on →