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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Catholic bishops challenge Duterte over death penalty

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
The Catholic Church in the Philippines will petition the new president against reintroducing the death penalty in the country, according to Fides.

The president of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, said he will seek a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte to urge him to stop his plans to reintroduce the death penalty.

Several bishops have challenged Duterte's plan to submit a measure to Philippine Congress to restore the death penalty, which was abolished in 2006.

He hopes to apply it for offences including drug offences, rape, robbery, car theft and corruption.

The Archbishop of Lipa, Ramon Arguelles, disputed Duterte's claim that the death penalty is a deterrent towards crime. He said he hoped the move "does not happen, especially while the Church celebrates the year of mercy".

Speaking at the Sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Oslo last week, Pope Francis called the death penalty "unacceptable".

"It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person. It likewise contradicts God's plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice," he said.

"Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty."

Bishops in the Philippines echoed the Pope's sentiments.

"God alone has power over life. God gives life and God takes it away. No one should play God," said Bishop of Balanga, Ruperto Santos. Instead, the government should "reform... the judicial and prison system," he added.

Source: Christian Today, June 23, 2016


Bishops in Philippines will oppose bid to restore capital punishment

The Catholic bishops of the Philippines will strongly oppose a bit by newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte to restore the death penalty, the Fides news service reports.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, the president of the country's episcopal cofnerence, says that he will ask to meet with Duterte in a bid to dissuade him from his plan to reintroduce capital punishment. Several other bishops have made statements opposing that plan.

Duterte campaigned for the presidency on a tough law-and-order platform, and argued for the execution of criminals convicted of grave crimes.

Source: catholicculture.org, June 23, 2016

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