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Sekulow, Rodriquez, and Panetti

The name of gold-plated conservative Jay Sekulow appears on the petition to spare from execution a severely mentally ill man named Scott Panetti. The founder and director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ, a counter to the ACLU), Sekulow is a strong defender of religious liberty, Israel, and other conservative causes, and a professor at Regent University Law School. And so on.

As I say, gold-plated. Those who might be inclined to react to any defense of the condemned should be given pause by Sekulow’s endorsement. The petition, signed by several prominent Evangelicals, says in part:

As Christians, we are called to protect the most vulnerable, and we count Mr. Panetti — a man who has suffered from severe mental illness for over 30 years — to be among them. . . .

The Gospel message compels us to speak for those without a voice and to care for the most vulnerable. For this reason, it is imperative that we treat those with mental illness in a fair and humane manner.

The execution of Scott Panetti would be a cruel injustice that would serve no constructive purpose whatsoever. When we inflict the harshest punishment on the severely mentally ill, whose culpability is greatly diminished by their debilitating conditions, we fail to respect their innate dignity as human beings. We therefore respectfully encourage you to consider granting Scott Panetti’s clemency petition and commuting his death sentence to life in prison.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, an Assemblies of God minister named by CNN “The leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement,” is another signer. Add to Sekulow, Rodriguez, and their peers’ appeal that of former Congressman Ron Paul. (Readers might guess how rarely I invoke Ron Paul.)

Change.org has a petition for clemency from Panetti’s sister and readers can and perhaps should write directly Governor Rick Perry (PO Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711-2428) and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (Clemency Section, General Counsel’s Office, 8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, TX 78758).

Catholic teaching, of course, firmly rules out the death penalty in all but the rarest circumstances and obviously rules it out in Scott Panetti’s. See The Catechism of the Catholic Church (number 2267):

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 possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” [The quote is taken from St. John Paul II’s Evangelium vitae.]

It doesn’t say anything about the conditions for clemency, since it opposes the death penalty outright. It does explicitly note that the traditional teaching requires the “guilty party’s . . . responsibility,” which assumes that he knows what he’s doing and did it anyway, which is at the least extremely questionable in the case of someone bedeviled by paranoid schizophrenia.

Something of what “responsibility” means might be gleaned from the Catechism‘s teaching on suicide (numbers 2280-2283), in which the Church says that “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” If grave psychological disturbance, like the paranoid schizophrenia from which Panetti suffers, partly reduces a man’s responsibility for killing himself, it partly reduces his responsibility for killing others.

As Catholics, we know we have to leave up to God the final determination of a man’s real guilt. We can’t possibly know. We do know the state of Texas should not kill him.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidmills/2014/11/sekulow-rodriquez-and-panetti/#ixzz3Jk1zYGEp

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Presidential Election 2016: Conservative Latinos Plan ‘Unprecedented Gathering’ Ahead of GOP Debate

Conservative Latinos plan to hold an “unprecedented gathering” in Boulder, Colorado, the site of the CNBC presidential debate on Oct. 28, to counter anti-Latino perceptions sparked by GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Organizers have invited “the people and organizations the RNC and GOP campaigns count on to engage the Latino electorate,” said Alfonso Aguilar, who heads the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, The Washington Post reported. “We’ll discuss the tone of the primary, comments about the Hispanic community and some of the immigration proposals that have been made.”

Trump has been at odds with the Latino community since he launched his presidential campaign by alleging that Mexico brought “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States, and his radical positions on immigration have irked even conservative Latinos.

In yet another attack on Latino advocacy groups, meanwhile, the Republican front-runner on Tuesday said that such organizations — some of which had called on NBC to disinvite him from hosting “Saturday Night Live” —  are “scammers,” The Hollywood Reporter noted.

“These are people that go around, they look for money from people,” Trump told CNN. “I had a group come up to me, the very supposedly prominent group. The first thing out of their mouths is like, ‘Would you like to join our coalition? It will cost from $25,000 to $2 million to join.'”

But the meeting in Boulder, on Oct. 27, will focus less on Trump and more on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the candidates with a Latino background challenging the real estate tycoon for the Republican Party’s 2016 nomination, according to The Washington Post.

Aguilar’s group plans to hold a news conference to “identify several candidates that will not have our support and who we are certain that if they become the GOP nominee will not get enough Latino voter support to win the general election,” the Latino Partnership leader said.

Also present at the event will be representatives from the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers; the Latino Coalition, a national organization of Hispanic business leaders; the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group; the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest Latino evangelical organization.

Original article can be read here: http://www.latinpost.com/articles/89372/20151023/presidential-election-2016-conservative-latinos-plan-unprecedented-gathering-ahead-gop.htm

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