Readers React: Does <i>every</i> killer really deserve a chance at redemption, Pope Francis?

Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Aug. 8.
(Filippo Monteforte / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Mario Marazziti’s account of the evolution of Roman Catholicism’s opposition to the death penalty centers on the wrongdoer’s intrinsic right to divine forgiveness: “Whatever their misdeeds, a criminal remains a person — and therefore capable of remorse, a conversion of heart, and redemption.”

Imagine if Adolf Hitler had been captured alive and sentenced to life imprisonment, or if Adolf Eichmann had been spared from execution by his Israeli captors. Then imagine further that they became practicing Catholics in prison, confessed their many sins and expressed heartfelt remorse for the millions of murders for which they were responsible, and then been spiritually absolved of these sins before they died.

Are we to believe that under these circumstances, they should be considered to have been redeemed and forgiven, and to have earned their place in heaven?

Cyril Barnert, Los Angeles



To the editor: Pope Francis has done the world a favor by declaring the death penalty inadmissible, a position in line with the three popes who preceded him.

Regardless of often-mentioned reasons to support it, at the end of the day, taking a person out of a cage and killing him is barbaric. Not only is it an attack on the dignity of the condemned, but on that of the executioner as well.

Nancy Oliveira, San Francisco



To the editor: The writer’s “global movement to abolish the death penalty” is a movement against God. All five books of the Torah express God’s will that someone who murders another should be put to death.

Genesis 9:6 is the earliest: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed.”

Exodus 21:12 clarifies it: “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.”

Roy W. Rising, Valley Village

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