I am adamantly against the president speaking at Notre Dame. I am a life-long Catholic and I follow the teachings of the Church. In other words, I am a conservative Catholic who is intolerant of any deviation from the teachings of the Church. That's that. End of statement. That was easy. Or was it?
The bone of contention is the president's stand on abortion and to a lesser extent, stem cell research. My feelings were pretty much sorted out on these issues and I felt good about my opposition. End of story.
I was reading the Catholic newspaper published by my diocese and my beliefs were taken to task. A letter to the editor asked this question, "When Antonin Scalia spoke at Notre Dame no one took him to task. He is an advocate of the death penalty and it is as surely against the teaching of the Church as abortion. Why the angst now?" The writer went on to imply that those who oppose Obama are racist. I'll let that one go, because it is beneath comtempt.
I thought, however, that's a great question. So I thought long and hard about it and came to a conclusion I feel comfortable putting forth as mine. I was a cop for 26 years civilian and four years in the military. I enforced laws for a living. I never thought about the laws themselves, I thought about doing my job. I enforced them without thought to their philosophy. Until the day I had to confront some abortion protesters at an abortion clinic.
Another officer and I began talking about our feelings about abortion. We both said we didn't believe in it and our religions were against it. We then thought about what we would do when confronted with protesters who believed as we did. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I couldn't arrest someone for protesting against something I would have protested against too. Luckily, I had a sergeant who understood. He allowed us to have a post away from the front line. But I thought about my beliefs and what they meant to me.
The Obama controversy brought it forth in my mind. I am in favor of the death penalty. I am against abortion. When I was a cop I encountered really evil people and I believe there are those who are evil and cannot be saved. When I cease to believe that, I cease to believe in good and evil. That is in my mind and will not leave. It is a part of me.
When the Church tells me to condemn the death penalty I am vexed. My life tells me to obey the Church and I will. So now I must figure out how to obey. My career tells me to enforce laws. But I must collect my resources and enforce those laws that are the most important to society.
I would arrest a robber/rapist long before I would ticket a red light violator. My training tells me that they are the same, my common sense tells me they are not. Criminals that threaten society and all the ideals that those laws represent need to be stopped. Abortion kills people before they are born and before they have a chance to live. That needs to be stopped. The death penalty kills those who had a chance to live and blew it. They did something that is so against society that we can't contemplate it. They deserve to forfeit their life.
I feel comfortable to say this: When someone gives up the life given them by God by committing an act so horrible that civilized society condemns it, they deserve the ultimate punishment. How do I reconcile my beliefs as a Catholic with this statement?
My statement is that I enforced some laws more zealously than others. I went after robbers, burglars, murderers, and rapists harder than others. That is how the law was enforced by me and I'm good with it.
Abortion is murder, the death penalty is a red light violation. I'm at peace.