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Spring Hill profs join death penalty protest. More than 160 theologians sign petition

Spring Hill profs join death penalty protest
More than 160 theologians sign petition

Updated: Monday, 26 Sep 2011, 8:34 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 26 Sep 2011, 8:19 PM CDT
Bob Grip

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Two Spring Hill College theology professors sign a petition calling for an end to the death penalty.

Associate Professor of Theology, Dr. Stephen Wilson and Professor of Theology & Spirituality, Rev. Christopher Viscardi, SJ were among more than 160 Catholic theologians who called on the United States to abolish capital punishment, and ask the Church to work "unwaveringly" toward that goal.

Dr. Wilson said, "One of the most heartening things about this statement is that it comes from people who represent the diverse population that is Catholicism in the United States. There are scholars with vary different theological agendas and backgrounds that agree that this is important enough of an issue for us to speak with one voice. It really is an eclectic collection of scholars--liberal and conservative, virtue theorists and rights theorists--that have come together to address this issue. Personally, I think the audience response to Brian Williams's question about capital punishment to Rick Perry at a Republican debate impressed upon many of us how much we are indeed surrounded by what John Paul II described as a 'culture of death'. When the death of anyone can be glibly applauded, then something has gone horribly wrong in a society."

The Catholic Moral Theology blog says, " Studies have shown that black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty . In many states with capital punishment, defendants are from 3 to 5 times more likely to be executed if their victim was white. In states that retain the death penalty, 98 percent of district attorneys are white and only 1 percent are black. Execution is also irrevocable, and innocent people have likely been victims of it. Since 1973, 138 persons have been exonerated from death row, most of whom were people of color and economically poor."

The theologians cited Catholic teaching in its opposition to the death penalty and said, "We therefore call upon lawmakers and President Obama to immediately repeal the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which created the legal conditions for executing a man whose guilt was not established beyond reasonable doubt."