CNN’s Carol Costello: Can You Be Pro-Life and Pro-Death Penalty?

costelloI missed this great op-ed piece by CNN’s Carol Costello that ran in May on the consistent ethic of life.

I find myself perpetually, uncomfortably, and instinctively part of the 8% of Americans who believe that both abortion and the death penalty are affronts to the God of Life and the call to reconciliation.

But there’s a vast ethical and moral difference between the “principalities and powers” of State-imposed execution and the pastoral universe of multivalent forces that may press down on a woman and her family. The ethic is engaged consistently: prophetically against the State, and pastorally with a human being.

Here’s Carol Costello:

Can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty?

It’s a question more than one person I know is asking after Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Not necessarily because of the way Oklahoma tortuously executed the convicted killer, but because of the hard-core way some reacted to Lockett’s execution.

Like Mike Christian. The pro-life Oklahoma state representative told The Associated Press, “I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.”

He also threatened to impeach judges who dared delay executions for any reason.

This is from a man who is so strongly pro-life he voted for eight bills in four years to prevent women in Oklahoma from terminating their pregnancies, or, as many who oppose abortion say, “killing babies.”

Color me confused. So, Rep. Christian says it’s OK to kill, unless you’re a woman who wants to end her pregnancy?
As I told my friends during a heated debate last weekend, that smacks of hypocrisy.

The only nonhypocritical viewpoint, I argued, exists in the Catholic Church.

Catholics believe in the “Consistent Ethic of Life.” As Georgetown’s Father Thomas Reese puts it, “we are concerned about a person from womb to tomb.”

“Life is something that comes from God and shouldn’t be taken away by man,” Reese told me.

Put simply, the Catholic Church opposes abortion and the death penalty. Period. Except nothing in life is that simple. Especially our collective views on the death penalty and abortion.
If you ask a Southern Baptist, he or she will likely tell you the Catholic Church is wrong.

“There is no contradiction here,” R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told me, referring to Rep. Christian’s underlying position. …..

Read the rest here.

Republican Evangelical Says Climate Change is a Pro-Life Issue

Pope Francis speaks out on creation care and Mitch Hescox, head of the Environmental Evangelical Network, challenges Florida Gov. Rick Scott to take climate change seriously, since “Florida is ground zero.”

Sane Gun Laws Are a Pro-Life Issue

Are U.S. Catholics taking the lead in fighting the epidemic of gun violence in our country?

The editors at National Catholic Reporter have a good column on why pro-life Catholics should be at the forefront of reinstating the assault weapons ban and universal background checks. And these two legislative goals are just the highly effective, legislatively low-hanging fruit.

Here’s an excerpt from Catholics Stand For Peacemaking Wanting, Some Say:

Activists and pastors who work with street violence or teach peacemaking and nonviolence fear the answer to that question is yes. They say the best response to the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where on Dec. 14 Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders, six teachers, his mother and himself, is a re-commitment to Gospel nonviolence and a grassroots-up movement to change our culture.

“Pro-life Christians who are a major political force in this country should be leading” a movement for saner gun control laws, says John Gehring, Catholic program director for the advocacy group Faith in Public Life.

“If the sanctity of human life in the womb galvanizes evangelical Christians and Catholics to march on Washington, create sophisticated lobbying campaigns and hold members of Congress accountable, there is no excuse for pro-life timidity on this issue,” Gehring wrote in a commentary about gun violence and the pro-life movement on his organization’s website.

“Catholic bishops, who will help mobilize many thousands of pro-life activists … for the annual March for Life in Washington, could also put more lobbying muscle behind gun control efforts,” he wrote.

If the bishops want to be outspoken on gun violence, they would seemingly have support from the pews. A sizeable majority of Catholics, 62 percent, favor stricter gun control laws, according to an August poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. Fewer than half of white evangelical Protestants, 35 percent, and white mainline Protestants favor stricter gun control laws, the survey found.

Bishop Blaire: Climate Change and Migrant Farmworkers

” … Excess greenhouse gases – primarily from the burning of fossil fuels – are seriously impacting our climate with significant consequences for humanity. Just as in the Diocese of Stockton it is the poorest people (migrant farmworkers, the elderly, the homeless) who are most impacted by our local air pollution, so too it is poor people around the world who suffer the most from climate change.  They do not have the resources to protect themselves from extended droughts or severe flooding. They do not have insurance policies to guard against crop failures, homes lost to floods or diseases exacerbated by hunger and thirst. Scientists tell us that erratic weather patterns are likely to intensify with a warming planet, causing people around the world to suffer their effects.  Unless we begin seriously to address our carbon footprint, future generations may experience even greater hardship.”–Catholic Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California

Read Bishop Blaire’s whole address at the recent Festival of Faiths conference in Louisville, KY.