The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith today clarifying his statement on the Government moves to implement the death penalty, said that what he meant was that the State should not bring back the death sentence, but that criminal minds that sought to destroy social peace and harm hundreds should not go unpunished.
“The criminal minds that sought to destroy social peace and harm hundreds of others, putting into ridicule law and order, and challenging humanity, to stop them if possible and that they should not go unpunished for their criminal behaviour, even after being condemned. Our youth are too precious to be sacrificed on the altar of philosophical sophistry and arguments. It would be like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned," Cardinal Ranjith said in a statement.
The clarification as follows:
“…Neither have I advocated a re-introduction of the death penalty carte blanche as people seem to have understood nor have I desired to close my eyes and do nothing before this terrible phenomenon our country is faced with at present which causes death and violence in the streets and the destruction of the cream of our youth who become drug addicts at an age as early as their adolescence being exposed to drugs even in their schools. This is being done by drug cartels operated at times from the prisons. That was the concern and context of my statement.
“Hundreds of parents have approached our clergy and expressed their horror at what happened to some of their children. Several cases of suicide by youth consuming drugs have been reported to us. The Archdiocese in fact organized two protest marches against drug peddlers in Ragama and in Negombo with thousands of our faithful participating and I have listened to the tearful tales of so many mothers whose families have been rendered destitute by the drug menace. Should we wash hands like Pilate and wait till our children are destroyed.
“The Holy Father Pope Francis has in fact not accepted the death penalty which is also my own position invariably. I am not for a generalized return of capital punishment. It should be the last option, if at all.
In fact the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that: "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only way of effectively defending human life against the unjust aggressor" [Catechism of the Catholic Church, revised edition, 1997 No. 2267].
“Thus, I have acted on this matter with a sense of total awareness of the gravity of this situation, in faithfulness to what my faith teaches me on the matter and in consideration of the tragedy that continues to strike our youth and the nation and my responsibility before God and our people in addressing this serious national issue. May I also refer to what Jesus, the Lord, mentioned with regard to those who cause scandal and mislead our children and youth in order to gain filthy lucre for themselves: "It would be better for you, if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble" [Lk.17:2].
My point is that the State should not bring back the death sentence, but that criminal minds that seek to destroy social peace and harm hundreds of others putting into ridicule law and order and challenging humanity to stop them if possible, should not go unpunished for their criminal behaviour even after being condemned. Our youth are too precious to be sacrificed on the altar of philosophical sophistry and arguments. It would be like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.”
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