Commenting on the possibility of Boston Bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev being sentenced to death, Pope Francis said that being jailed for life is “a death penalty in itself”. The comment went a little further than the one coming from Massachusetts Catholic bishops, who said that “no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.”
Generally speaking, the death penalty should not be a way to punish criminals, said the Pope. This is not the first time that the head of the Catholic Church opposed capital punishment. Francis’ predecessor, John Paul II, called on former Governor of Missouri not to give the green light to punishing a convicted murderer by executing him in 1999.
Boston residents’ opinion on the matter is aligned with that of the bishops and the Pope. Only 27 percent of them believe that Tsarnaev should be executed. Massachusetts outlawed capital punishment in 1984, but the Justice Department sought it for Tsarnaev last year.
When does Pope’s and bishops’ line of reasoning come from? Well, one of Ten Commandments is “thou shall not kill.” Even though killing in self-defense is socially acceptable, the capital punishment cannot be considered self-defense.
When it comes to justice being served, there are various opinions on whether Tsarnaev should be executed. One voice spoke up on the matter, and it was Sean Collier’s sister. Collier is the police officer Tsarnaev twins killed after the bombing attack.
She wrote on Facebook: “Whenever someone speaks out against the death penalty, they are challenged to imagine how they would feel if someone they love were killed. I’ve been given that horrible perspective and I can say that my position has only strengthened. It has nothing to do with some pursuit of forgiveness. I can’t imagine I’ll ever forgive him for what he did to my brother, to my family, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life, whether he is on this earth or not. But I also can’t imagine that killing in response to killing would ever bring me peace or justice. Just my perspective, but enough is enough. I choose to remember Sean for the light that he brought. No more darkness.”
Photo attribution: "Boston Marathon 2010 in Wellesley" by Peter Farlow