Hope is antidote to prisoners’ despair

As Catholics we are obliged to do everything in our power to protect life, all life, from the moment of its conception until natural death. No caveat exists here. Thus it seems to me that to support capital punishment is to engage in a performative contradiction.

I strongly disagree with Deacon John Bresnahan’s response (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 6), to OSV editor John Norton’s column(Openers, Nov. 22), for those reasons. To suggest one is pro-life while supporting the death penalty is an oxymoron.

Deacon Bresnahan emphasizes guards in prisons being murdered. I am incarcerated in Florida State Prison, where the state carries out its executions. I am aware guards are murdered by inmates. However, inmates are also murdered by guards. Life is not respected in prison. This is the despair that Bishop Paul S. Loverde notes.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical, Spe Salvi (“Saved by Hope”), that “the one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life” (No. 2). One does not receive hope, or new life, facing the despair of pending execution. It seems to me that if Deacon Bresnahan is concerned about murderers murdering still more people, the antidote is not execution. Rather, the solution may be in attaching value to the murderer’s life so he will be compelled to see the value in his would-be-victim’s life, and in all life.

— Michael A. Cardinale, Raiford, Fla.

Heroic pontiffs

Regarding the new decree by Pope Benedict XVI recognizing Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII as “venerable” (“Sainthood cause advanced for two popes,” Jan. 3).

I commend the Vatican for moving Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII a step closer to sainthood.

Pope John Paul II, a man of deep faith, will one day be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church! He was an inspiration and a model witness to the life of Christ; a shepherd of truth immersed in profound humility and immense love for both God and man. His many writings and tireless, worldwide pilgrimages of faith were a source of strength, encouragement, confidence, optimism and enlightenment not only to Catholics, but to all men of good will.

Pope Pius XII also possessed “heroic virtue.” It is an irrefutable fact that Pope Pius and the Catholic Church saved more Jews in Europe during the World War II than any other party, with the only exception being the Allied liberating armies themselves.

He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the practical situations of that complex period of history, he foresaw that only in this way could he avoid the worst and save the greatest possible number of Jews.

In 1946 Isaac Herzog, chief Rabbi of Jerusalem wrote a letter to Pius XII thanking him for helping Jews during the Holocaust and for “sheltering thousands of children, who were hidden in Catholic institutions.”

Pope Pius promoted intense charitable work on behalf of the persecuted, without distinction of religion, race, nationality or political affiliation.

— Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Author is dead wrong

How does “Life and Death” author Dinesh D’Souza acquire the idea that the West lives in denial of death (“A scientific and reasonable case for life after death,” Dec. 20)?

We have long funeral processions, flags at half-staff, memorials and ceremonies for the dead, sometimes elaborate tombstones, visitations at cemeteries designed as parks, and portrayal and themes in countless garish or somber movies. In New Orleans, grand, noisy parades accompany coffins through the streets. Our daily papers report death in the news and obituaries. Every funeral I’ve attended has had children present.

If this country denied death, would there be a very profitable life insurance industry? Lucrative funeral home plans?

If someone dies in the hospital, isn’t it because life is trying to be prolonged by modern medical arts?

If “funeral processions are a regular sight” in other countries as he says, it could most likely be due to inadequate medical care, not that the culture is more accepting of mortality.

Our language embraces death with “sudden death overtime,” “death-defying stunts” and refers to the Grim Reaper in jokes and banter. Any more attention to death and he would, I suppose, call it morbid!

When individuals make such erroneous statements, you must seriously wonder about validity of other statements. It is delinquent perception and irresponsible dissemination.

— Name withheld, St. Louis, Mo.

Speaking in one voice 

Re: Bishop Thomas Tobin, abortion and U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (“Bishop revives debate over pro-choice politicians,” Dec. 20).

Hurrah for OSV and Russell Shaw’s article on the above subject. Bishop Tobin is a “gutsy” prelate who tackled Congressman Kennedy in Kennedy territory.

I wonder how many other bishops have written their U.S. senators or congressmen letters similar to Bishop Tobin’s to Kennedy. Let’s hope more bishops do.

To get 189 bishops to speak with one voice would be like getting 100 U.S. senators to speak with one voice.

— L. Curley, Dearborn, Mich.