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Media Hit of the Week

September 30, 2011, 3:59 pm | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

David Gibson’s Religion News Service story this week highlights a petition that Faith in Public Life shared with reporters. The petition, signed by over 250 Catholic theologians, calls for an end to the death penalty in the wake the recent executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Brewer. Their effort was especially timely in light of the Catholic bishops’ message for October’s “Respect Life Month” campaign, which failed to include capital punishment among the key issues highlighted.

Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who wrote the message, focused tightly on the bishops’ increasingly fierce fight with President Obama over mandated contraception coverage, allegations of growing discrimination against believers, concerns about excess embryos from fertility treatments and long-term care of the infirm.

Conspicuously absent from the letter was any mention of the death penalty.

That struck more than a few Catholics as odd, especially in the wake of the controversial execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and because DiNardo’s own governor, Rick Perry, has unapologetically defended his state’s record of leading the nation in executions as he campaigns for the White House.

Vincent Miller, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton, called the omission “troubling.”

“If contraception is a life issue,” he said, “surely state-sponsored execution is one.”

Miller was one of 256 — and counting — Catholic scholars and activists who have signed a petition calling for the abolition of the death penalty in the wake of the Sept. 21 executions of Davis and Texas white supremacist Lawrence Brewer. The petition cites church teaching, as well as legal authorities and the latest research, to argue the capital punishment is racially unjust as well as immoral.”

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