I read with some amazement the article by Jeff Sadow headlined “The Death Penalty Protects Our Society.”

Aside from the fact that it is riddled with errors, his comment that the Catholic Church somehow supports the death penalty is a total misrepresentation of the Church’s position. He takes Pope John Paul II’s words totally out of context. What John Paul II said was:

“The death penalty is an offense against the inviolability of life and dignity of the human person which contradicts God’s plan for man and society.” He went on to say that “the cases in which the execution of an offender is an absolute necessity are . . . practically non-existent.”

Ironically, just last week, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops — every Bishop in Louisiana — issued a statement strongly opposing the death penalty and advocating that the Louisiana Legislature abolish the death penalty this year. In a commentary in this week’s Clarion Herald, the Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond referred to the death penalty as a “pro-life issue.” Archbishop Aymond also said that “we wanted to communicate to the lawmakers our position because many of them already had asked us for that. We wanted to make sure our theological position was communicated clearly.”

Pope Francis, in his address to the United States Congress two years ago, called for a worldwide ban on capital punishment. The European Union already has such a ban.

Although it would seem from all that the Church’s position has been communicated quite clearly, it obviously was not clear enough for Jeff Sadow, who I believe may still live in the world of alternative facts.

H. Bruce Shreves


New Orleans