National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Death row inmates could be executed by firing squad in Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — Former marketing executive and now Florida State Rep. Brad Drake wants to give death row inmates the option of using a firing squad instead of lethal injection when they are executed.

Drake, a Republican, came up with this idea from a constituent he talked to in a Waffle House, according to The Current, an online news source covering Florida politics.

Drake told The Current that he decided to file the bill, called HB 325, after he overheard a constituent say, “You know, they ought to just put them in the electric chair or line them up in front of a firing squad.”

“There shouldn’t be anything controversial about a .45-caliber bullet,” Drake told The Current. “If it were up to me we would just throw them off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge [in Tampa Bay] and be done with it.”

Florida began to use lethal injections after a malfunction of the electric chair during Pedro Medina’s execution in 1997, when Medina appeared to be on fire.

Archbishop, chaplains object to same-sex weddings

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WASHINGTON -- Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and a group representing hundreds of other Christian military chaplains have objected to a Pentagon memo allowing military chaplains to participate in or officiate at same-sex marriages on or off military installations.

The memo was issued by Undersecretary of Defense Clifford L. Stanley Sept. 30. It followed the Sept. 20 repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that banned gays from serving openly in the armed forces.

Stanley's memo said: "A military chaplain may participate in or officiate (at) any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law."

It also said that "a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate (at) a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion."

Archbishop Broglio has questioned how the military could allow chaplains in the U.S. armed forces to be involved in same-sex marriage ceremonies when the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits such unions.

127 former Maryknollers support Bourgeois

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Like Fr. Roy Bourgeois, many of them supported the ministries of Maryknoll around the world as missionaries, priests, or sisters.

Now, as the priest faces expulsion from the missionary order for his backing of women's ordination, they're publicly supporting him.

Writing that they have experienced "sadness and regret" since the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers announced its move against Bourgeois in March, 127 people with close ties to the order have written to Bourgeois expressing support -- telling the priest that his superiors possess "neither the courage, nor the wisdom, nor the requisite diplomacy to affirm you and your prophetic ministry."

The letter, which was released Oct. 6 as the order was celebrating its 100th anniversary with a symposium at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, is signed by people from across the country who served with Maryknoll in some capacity over the years. Among those listed as signers are a number of former priests, and three people still living abroad, in Peru, Bolivia, and Armenia.

At Offutt, activists call for nuclear weapons cuts

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In this time of economic hardship, with unemployment near historic highs and with budgets stretched tight at all levels from the federal government down to the local school boards, it is not right to be spending billions of dollars on nuclear weapons.

That was the message some 150 Catholic activists carried Oct. 2 to the gates of Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Neb., home of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for the planning and targeting of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

Three of the activists, including a Franciscan sister and a member of the Des Moines, Iowa, Catholic Worker community, were arrested after crossing onto the property of the base in a symbolic act of civil resistance.

The event was sponsored by the Dubuque, Iowa, Sisters of St. Francis.

The timing, said Sr. Pat Farrell, vice-president of the Dubuque Franciscan community and president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, “expressed our own commitment to peacemaking as Franciscans.”

Death penalty missing in 'seamless garment'?

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Is Catholic opposition to the death penalty losing traction as opposition to abortion, gay marriage, contraception and other causes become the defining “pro-life” issues for the American hierarchy?

That’s what some Catholics are asking after the bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee Sept. 26 released its message for October’s “Respect Life Month” campaign, which kicks off in thousands of U.S. parishes on Oct. 2.

Pentagon: Chaplains can celebrate gay marriages

WASHINGTON -- Military chaplains can lead same-sex marriage ceremonies on and off military bases, the Pentagon announced Friday (Sept. 30), in a move that closely followed the repeal of a ban on openly gay service members.

“A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law,” wrote Undersecretary of Defense Clifford L. Stanley.

The capital punishment conundrum of Catholic politicians

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Judging by many Catholic public officials' record on capital punishment, you would think that Catholicism has no problem with injecting lethal chemicals into the veins of human beings. Just last week Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia erroneously claimed current Catholic teaching does not view the death penalty as "immoral."

I wonder how many of the faithful at this Sunday's Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. agree. The Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Donald Wuerl, is often attended by political luminaries such as Scalia.

Dead wrong: Catholics must no longer support capital punishment

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VATICAN CITY -- The Catholic Church's position on capital punishment has evolved considerably over the centuries.

And as a result, "it is not a message that is immediately understood -- that there is no room for supporting the death penalty in today's world," said a Vatican's expert on capital punishment and arms control.

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