Recently, Governor Quinn signed a bill abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.  Many citizens are angry and disappointed with his decision.  I know this topic is important to numerous people and there are countless factors that must be considered in moral decisions including justice, finances, and the justice system, among others. The Catholic Church has reminded us of the right to live and the need to respect all human life.  Capital punishment has been defended throughout the Christian tradition as a way of preventing even greater evil from happening.  John Paul II committed himself to this traditional view, yet he also recognized that civilized societies can restrain those who commit acts of violence without killing the perpetrator.  For a long time I supported the traditional view despite the pope’s statements; however, throughout the past two years my conscience, mind, and heart have been changing.  When I was at St. Louis University, I took a class on Critical Theory.  Critical Theory was a philosophical movement that developed in the midst of fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism.  These thinkers saw how human reason could turn against itself; our minds are capable of creating medicines which can cure countless people or our minds can create weapons and even highly complex structures where millions of people are put to death.  The Holocaust shows us the amount of planning it required from building camps to developing a complex system of trains.  Thousands, millions of hours were used to create structures for others to die.   The goods that surround us can so easily be abused including our ability to reason.  John Paul II saw clearly in his own life many people put to death by governments.  Nazis killed the communists and Jews; the communists killed Christians, and the bloodshed continues through this very day.  It is a slippery slope from killing a criminal justly to killing someone because they are an “enemy of the state,” however you define that term.  Perhaps the death penalty is accepted here because we as a country have not faced evil governmental structures which condemn innocent people to death. May God protect us and our country from such a tragedy.  We must not forget what others suffered, for Jesus too was a criminal executed by the state. 
 


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