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The point of the gospel of life

Michael O'Brien | Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We would like to tactfully contest some points Mr. Mullen brought up in the discussion of Mr. Williams’ editorial (“Gingrich is not Obama” Sept 20). Regarding the death penalty, Mr. Mullen’s quotation of Church teaching is correct, but he makes a very common misinterpretation. While it is true that the Church believes the death penalty to be defensible in some cases, in which it is “the only possible way of defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” that should not be a concern in the United States today.

In Biblical times, and in many developing countries, there was/is no other way to protect people from the potential of repeat offenses, but in the U.S. today, we have the sentence of life without parole in a maximum security facility. Also, Mr. Mullen’s connection of the death penalty with self defense is illogical because self defense is a defense used in criminal court for a crime committed in order to protect oneself from serious bodily harm, while the death penalty is a criminal punishment used in the most serious (or politically charged) murder trials.

Certainly abortion is a much more salient political issue, but the morality of an issue is not tied to the number of lives lost … Mr. Mullen seems to be trivializing the legal homicide of 1,200 people. In addition, Mr. Mullen puts words in the mouth of Mr. Williams when he suggests Mr. Williams implied that abortion, capital punishment, waterboarding and health care access all lie in the same moral field. Rather, it seems to us that Mr. Williams is simply curious to see if Mr. Gingrich’s visit would go completely unnoticed, considering the constant scrutiny on Notre Dame about upholding Catholic tradition. If putting an end to abortion is the only issue that Catholics are willing to stand up and fight for, we are missing the point of the gospel of life.


Michael O’Brien


Knott Hall

Sept. 20