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Bible supports capital punishment, Archbishop declares: The Church of England Newspaper, July 21, 2013, p 7. July 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime.
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The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has reaffirmed the morality of capital punishment telling reporters last week the execution of convicted criminals by the state did not contravene Christian ethical teaching.

On 21 June 2013 four men were hanged in Benin, Edo State after they exhausted their appeals following their convictions for murder. In a statement signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, president of the Nigerian Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the bishops described the executions as “a clear departure from modernity to savagery”.

“We believe that the actions aimed at reforming criminals will do better good to the society than capital punishment,” the Catholic archbishop said.

Overseas organizations led by Amnesty International also condemned the hangings. However Archbishop Okoh told reporters on 5 July 2013 “government should not allow anybody or organisation to teach it what morality is. The law of capital punishment for those who rightly deserve it should be enforced.”

The convicts executed last month were part of a criminal gang that had been found guilty of robbing a woman then raping and murdering her, the archbishop said. “Where is the human right of this woman? Meanwhile, the armed robbers involved had been executed, and people are crying for the human rights of the armed robbers,” he noted.

“Anybody who has degenerated to that level of depravity deserves capital punishment and it should be enforced,” said Archbishop Okoh, adding that it was “not true to say that punishment does not deter crime, it does.”

One of the duties of government is to administer justice. “Punishment must be effected and that is the essence of government, the Bible supports it, and the government cannot abdicate from punishing crime in the name of Amnesty International,” he said.

California bishops call for an end to the death penalty: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2012 November 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Bishops of California have urged voters to back Proposition 34 in the November election and end capital punishment in the state.

In a pastoral letter released last month the bishop said “we believe that the citizens of our state face a profound moral choice this November in the form of Proposition 34. That measure, if approved, will end the death penalty in our state, replacing it with a sentence of life without parole.”

They conceded that capital punishment was an “issue on which reasonable people of good faith might disagree, we want to reaffirm emphatically our Church’s opposition to the death penalty, a position first officially stated by our General Convention in 1958.”

Their opposition to the death penalty was based “in our understanding of God’s justice, our regard for the sacredness of human life, our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, our desire to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and our mission to continue Christ’s work of reconciliation in this world.”

In 1972 the California Supreme Court banned the death penalty, but a voter referendum – Proposition 17 – that year overturned the court’s ban and the death penalty was reinstated in 1978.  However in 2006 a U.S. District Court halted execution in California after he found the state’s execution process was flawed and a moratorium is in place against executions.  As of 2012, 725 inmates, including 19 women, are on California’s death row.

Polls indicate Proposition 34 is not likely to pass. In September, 51 per cent of those polled said they opposed the referendum, while 31 per cent were in favor.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Death Penalty upheld for Bombay terrorist: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 6. September 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Terrorism.
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Mohammed Ajmal Kasab entering the Bombay CST station on 26 Nov 2008

A two-judge panel of India’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Mohammed  Ajmal Kasab, dismissing the 25-year old Pakistani’s appeal of his conviction on 80 counts of murder and terrorism charges arising from the 2008 terror attack on Bombay.

In the opinion handed down last week, Justices Aftab Alam and C.K. Prasad held that in “view of the nature of the gravity of his crime and the fact that he participated in waging war against the country, we have no option but to uphold his death penalty.”

Church leaders in India had been divided over the propriety of imposing the death penalty following Kasab’s 10 May 2010 conviction. Catholic leaders had urged clemency citing their church’s social teachings on capital punishment. However, the Church of North India’s general secretary told reporters the sentence was just and that Anglicans did not oppose in principle capital punishment.

Kasab was one of ten heavily armed terrorists who attacked a rail station, hotels, a Jewish center and other Bombay landmarks on 26-29 November 2008 in a rampage that that left 173 dead and 300 injured. A closed circuit television camera captured Kasab carrying a sub-machine gun in the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal where 52 people died.  Kasab was captured by police on the first day of the assault while the other nine were killed in gun battles with police.

Following the 2010 conviction, the Rev. Enos Das Pradhan, General Secretary of the Church of North India said: “We welcome the judgment. It is a message to everybody that the rule of law prevails.”

While Christians differed on the morality of capital punishment, he believed it was ethically just.  It also served as a deterrent to crime, he argued.

However, the head of the Roman Catholic bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, Fr. Nithiya Sagayam, said the Catholic Church was opposed to capital punishment.

“Capital punishment does not solve any problem. It will only make things worse,” he argued.

Kasab may ask for reconsideration of the court’s ruling or petition President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee for clemency.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.