Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maureen Dowd on Scalia (and U.S. Catholic Bishops) and Cooperation in Evil

Justice Scalia and Cardinal Wuerl of D.C., Red Mass, 2008

Maureen Dowd writes about Supreme Court justice Scalia's defense of capital punishment in a speech he delivered recently at Duquesne University, and about the double standard the U.S. Catholic bishops employ in promoting Catholic moral values in the public square:

The church has aggressively meddled in politics on abortion, trying to defeat candidates who support abortion rights and prevent some liberal politicians from receiving Communion. But American bishops have been inconsistent in preaching their values.

They do not try to bring down politicians who supported the Iraq war, even though Pope John Paul II spoke out against it and sent a Vatican cardinal to warn W. that the war would be a “disaster” that would “destroy human life.” They do not express outrage at Republican audiences that cheer for executions, or target pols who brag on the death penalty, even though John Paul issued an encyclical against “the culture of death,” saying modern states have so many ways to protect citizens that the necessity for executions is “very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Scalia, confident in his own infallibility, dissented. As he wrote in a religious journal in 2002, he does not find the death penalty immoral, and he believes that as the “minister of God,” government has powers to get “revenge” and “execute wrath.” He’s clearly more an Old Testament guy than New, or he would know that some prisoners get falsely accused and nailed to the cross (Matthew 26:59-66).

Now Scalia has dissented from the opinion of a second pope on the issue. Pope Benedict sent Georgia state officials a letter last month asking for clemency for Troy Davis, but the very Catholic Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution.

In his Duquesne speech, Scalia said: “If I thought that Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign. I could not be a part of a system that imposes it.”

My family priest, Father Kevin O’Neil, teaches about “cooperation in evil” in Catholic moral theology. If you facilitate something that has been deemed wrong, like taking a human life, are you cooperating in evil?

Maybe the Supreme Court should ask itself that question. Are you “cooperating in evil,” Justice Scalia?

And she's right.

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