Being sentenced to death is one more tragedy because of hate.
Of course the age-old controversy of capital punishment, at least in our country, never seems to get a clear opinion of a moral outcome. The final conclusion of the five year old murder trial in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill section agrees collectively that Robert Bowers, the convicted shooter, is approved by the jury that he is ready for the death penalty. The decision by the judge is Death!
The approach by many, including myself, has turned a sour opinion towards the death penalty. When we look at the free style of taking revenge on innocent people by too many descriptive persons, many of whom are young and immature, can sicken those of us who grew up with an attitude of giving everyone a chance in life. We overlooked the manner that some of these young kids used to get even with their enemies by fists, but now guns are the way to go. In the case of Robert Bowers it was a vengeance on Jews, for no known reason who took the lives of eleven citizens, all Jewish and at prayer in the Tree of Life Synagogue. The oldest, a woman in her 90’s among ten other members of the congregation all brutally shot. Four police officers were shot as well trying to apprehend this man. His defense attorney claimed he was delusional and was Schizophrenic. The jurors discounted that defense.
This past year and a number of years before have documented case after case of more murders that we almost don’t want to mention are perpetrated by mentally affected persons with either a hatred towards the victims or a case of revenge.
In either case the epidemic of an evil input has entered our society and the outcome is tragically becoming a copy-cat scenario that is getting out of control. When we read the newspaper on a daily basis or view another shooting on TV newscasts, the anger we should have, at least because of all the innocent people being murdered, must fire some heat in our pride of goodness that is subverted. The many school shootings or stabbings by other students has our minds spinning, especially if you are my age that grew up in the 50’s. At that time there were disruptions in schools, but never to the point of killing one or more classmates.
However, as bad as some of these atrocities have garnered our attention, where do we draw the line of punishment?
Back in the late 40’s, after WWII, the Nuremberg trials were held, and I remember Justice Musmanno mentioned he went to Mass every day and hoped that his attendance would assist his decisions towards the many German officers and others of whom many were hung. It is not always a simple decision to condemn someone to death, regardless of their evil intention towards innocent people. Killing, or having an indirect part in exterminating six million Jews should have had some reflection on their faith. But, as in the case of Robert Bowers, where was his moral background? He said he would have killed more if he had the opportunity.
Questioning this thought of taking a life, legally and even spiritually approved, we must go back to the mount of Calvary. Scripture tells us that not one has reached the glory of God, not one.
Without Jesus sacrificing himself for us, we all would have been sentenced. Where then is our defense? The Lord told me that in spite of the outcome towards the Synagogue shooting and the sentence of death, we still must pray for the soul of Robert. Our faith tells us that message in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5: 43 45).
Ralph B. Hathaway