Back in 1578 (according to Wikipedia), the Roman Catholic Church handed down this edict with regard to punishments for heresy (in other words, not following the Roman Catholic Church): “…punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.”
Fast forward 400-some-odd years, and the Catholic Church is all about life. A position statement on the death penalty, published on the Florida Conference of Bishops website states, “The Church’s commitment to the value and dignity of human life leads us to oppose the use of the death penalty. We do not question society’s duty to protect itself, but we believe that there are better approaches to protecting our people from violent crimes.”
The Church is protesting the execution of Paul Howell, who built a powerful pipe bomb to kill two women who knew about his drug operation. The bomb was packaged in a microwave oven, because one of the women had a baby and wanted a microwave to heat the milk. Bomb-making materials and parts of the microwave were found in Howell’s apartment. The car used to deliver the bomb was rented in his name. A state trooper pulled the driver over, and during the course of the investigation, the bomb went off, and the trooper was killed. Many more people would likely have been killed if it had gone off in the intended victim’s apartment. A Miami Herald article goes into much more detail.
But the Catholic Church says this man, this drug dealer, this would-be killer of an innocent baby, should be allowed to live.
I don’t think any position statement was issued when Queen Mary of England and her followers burned nearly 300 people for heresy from 1553 to 1558, nor when the Spanish Inquisition killed 2,000 heretics from 1480 to 1530. And most of those people hadn’t committed heinous murders; they just weren’t Catholics.
My how times change.