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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…

Pope Francis: Death penalty is a “mortal sin”

Pope Francis
If Pope Francis has been criticized for ambiguity in Amoris Laetitia, he certainly can’t be faulted for it in his latest comments on the death penalty. 

In his homily today, the pontiff called for a deeper understanding of Christ in the context of our times and of human progress. 

Just as Christian nations gradually understood the evil of slavery, Francis argued, so too should enlightened nations realize that the death penalty is also a “mortal sin” that is “inadmissible” under any circumstances.

This journey undertaken “to understand, to deepen our understanding of Jesus and to deepen our faith” serves also, Francis explained, “to understand moral teaching, the Commandments.”
He pointed out that some things that “once seemed normal and not sinful, are today conceived as mortal sins:
“Think of slavery: at school they told us what they did with the slaves taking them from one place and selling them in another…. That is a mortal sin” he said.
But that, he said, is what we believe today. Back then it was deemed acceptable because people believed that some did not have a soul. It was necessary, the Pope said, to move on to better understand the faith and to better understand morality.
And reflecting bitterly on the fact that today “there are no slaves”, Pope Francis pointed out there are in fact many more of them…. but at least, he said, we know that to enslave someone is to commit a mortal sin.
The same goes for the death penalty: “once it was considered normality; today we say that it is inadmissible” he said.

Is this a big shift? The Catholic Church has been consistent in its opposition to the death penalty on practical grounds for the last several decades.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Hot Air, Ed Morrissey, May 11, 2017

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