See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Friday, September 24, 2010

The execution of Teresa Lewis.

I do not receive the daily newspaper, nor have I watched television news today, so I don't know if anyone else noticed but I picked up the story online that the execution of Teresa Lewis, the first execution in 100 years for the state of Virginia, took place last night.  Does anyone care? 
I'm not strictly opposed to the death penalty - but I do believe it should only be applied - if ever - in very rare circumstances.  Unfortunately for Teresa Lewis, I'm convinced the sentence was totally unwarranted, especially considering the actual hired killers got life imprisonment for carrying out the murders.
The first woman executed in the United States in five years was put to death in Virginia on Thursday for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment.
Teresa Lewis, 41, who defense attorneys said was borderline mentally disabled, died by injection at 9:13 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. She became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. 
Lewis enticed two men, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, through sex, cash and a promised cut in the insurance policy to shoot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., and his son, Charles, as they slept in October 2002.
Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison and Shallenberger committed suicide in 2006.

Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps. - Source
Teresa Lewis expressed sorrow for her crimes before she was executed.
I honestly don't get it.  I do not see why this execution was necessary.  For the past few months or so there has been a huge outcry against the capital sentence by stoning for a woman caught in adultery in Iran.  (If the Iranian woman had been guilty of murdering her husband, she would have been immediately hanged - similar sentence for similar crimes - who's the better for it?) 
I of course think stoning is a barbaric, medieval sentence - and it is ridiculous to equate adultery with a capital crime such as murder.  That said, there is likewise something wrong with our justice system when we feel the need to execute someone who could have just as well served a life sentence for the crime.


  1. Amen, Terry. Very glad to see you posted this.

  2. Agreed Terry--you got it. Ace

  3. I agree with your conclusions in this case. On a different note - why are there never any politicians who are against the death penalty, but FOR stricter sentencing? In my experience, the best argument for the death penalty is that usually people condemned to life in prison people end up getting out, and in some cases the strike again (though I don't see that happening in a case like this).

  4. "I'm not strictly opposed to the death penalty - but I do believe it should only be applied - if ever - in very rare circumstances."

    Just out of curiosity, under what set of circumstances would you support the death penalty?

  5. Tom - White shoes after Labor Day is a biggie. Ace already trapped me, so I'm not responding anymore. ;)

  6. I did see that news item, and I agree with you, Terry. Hopefully she repented of what she did; I said a prayer for her and her victims. My feeling about the death penalty is that it coarsens society and drags it down to the level of the criminals that it is removing. I remember the last death by electric chair in Nebraska (the method is lethal injection now). There were a bunch of people having tailgate parties in the neighborhood of the state penitentiary, celibrating the "barbecue".

  7. Aww Terry, what fun would that be if you won't respond? I didn't mean to knock the wind out of your sails, really! Ace

    PS. I agree with that penalty for white shoes after Labor Day btw.

  8. Ace - no offense taken at all.

  9. I asked because of those two monstrosities out of Connecticut who murdered that family. One is tempted to ask him or herself (and fight the anger that perpetuates this type of thoughts) how many times these individuals should be executed before one felt justice had been served. Obviously, our faith should supersede that primitive and inhuman lust for retribution. But imagine having to be the individual faced with the task of forgiving those who murdered your family. Makes me confront the shameful reality of what a complete coward I am.

    What they did was unspeakable.

  10. You're forgetting that she instigated a conspiracy and while she may not have murdered, she instigated the murder. During their sleep. Cowardly. Note that her attorney says she's borderline retarded but that there's no actual evidence indicating it.

    The difference between the sentence for stoning for adultery is that a) it's under Sharia law which discounts testimony of women; b) holds men and women to different standards; c) doesn't require actual evidence d) subjugates women.

    I don't think the two sentences can be compared at all; one woman, in order to gain financially, persuaded two men to murder her husband and stepson in their sleep and the other allegedly had sex. Note that in most of the US, stoning would not be perceived as an option for capital punishment.

  11. Holy Mother Church allows for the death penalty.

    To be against it is to committ a material heresy.

    In countries where stoning a woman for adultry is allowed:

    bring the muslim forward that participated and cut off his penis.

    No more men with penises, no more muslim problem.

    It's a win-win situation.


  12. Holy Mother Church allows for the death penalty.

    To be against it is to committ a material heresy.

    Not true. Pope Benedict, when he was still a Cardinal, said that a Catholic could remain in good standing and be either in favor for or opposed to the death penalty.

  13. I don't think the death penalty was warranted in this case. If she were a serial muderer or rapist I would have to reconsider.

  14. To believe the death penalty is wrong is a material heresy.

    Bishop Chaput of Denver, I believe, and a few other Bishops in good standing are against the death penalty, so Pope Benedict XVI is in good company when he is wrong in his belief.

    Please tell me that no Cardinal, Bishop, Pope, or Priest has ever been wrong.


  15. Jesus, mercy!
    If this woman was "mentally disabled" in any way, shape or form, where is the justice here?
    There are situations where mentally disabled individuals have been put to death by execution; as well, people who were condemned, yet found to be innocent later...
    they were thankfully released without being executed.
    The horror of crimes committed by anyone, especially against the innocent, are unimaginably difficult for the survivors, family members, community.
    But execution in any way must be commensurate with the crime; and the individual, according to my understanding of Catholic teaching, must be a danger to society in an absolute way, and there must be absolutely no racial or any other kind of prejudice or violation of human rights or dignity involved.
    Otherwise, we are as guilty as the one committing the heinous crime.

  16. According to the Catechism, which so many are so fond of throwing in my direction when convenient, the death penalty is condoned by the Church ONLY if there is no other way to keep people safe from being harmed by the offender. In our time and in our society, then, the death penalty is NEVER acceptable, because we have more than sifficient means of protecting people from offenders.

  17. Are you pregnant, or just a little pregnant?

    That is as good a question as people that try to make limp wrists of Holy Mother Churches teachings.

    Saint James the Moor Slayer.

    Was he cat chatting with the Muslims, or giving them Capital Punishment?


  18. You didn't answer the assertion of the Catechism.

  19. The Church's teaching on capital punishment, in this present age, according to the teaching Magisterium of the Church, is that execution should only be the last resort for someone who is of certain danger to society; otherwise, it is not moral.
    That is not always an easy calculation; my moral theology prof, a Dominican, very, very reasonable said that even in prison, there are men and women who by a phone call or other means could cause the death and destruction of others; that is another matter altogether.
    In this case, this woman was one of the "poorest of the poor" by reason of her mental disability;
    this is not like some Mafia don who could order assassination of all kinds of people from his prison cell.
    Let's get some perspective, here.

  20. Solitary confinement doesn't allow telephone calls. That's not enough to justify the taking of another's life.

  21. Thom, agreed.
    I am sorrowful that this woman's life was taken; I don't understand this, at all.

  22. On the night before Halloween in 2002, after she prayed with her husband, Lewis got out of bed, unlocked the door to their mobile home and put the couple's pit bull in a bedroom so the animal wouldn't interfere.

    Shallenberger and Fuller came in and shot both men several times with the shotguns Lewis had bought for them.

    Charles Lewis died quickly, but her husband, his body riddled with birdshot, was still alive when police arrived and moaned "baby, baby, baby," the Washington Post said.

    Holy Mother Church says Capital Punishment by the State is permissible.

    If this country was under Ecclesiastical Authority, she most likely would have gotten the same verdict.

    Retarded or mentally incapacitated people cannot plot the death of someone in the manner in which her husband and the other man were killed.

    Too much planning, executing, and attempt to deceive was involved.

    I hope I never get called to jury duty to decide a case like this.


  23. Pablo, capital punishment is permissible. Permissible. As in, it can be done. Nowhere does the Church say it MUST be done. No one is a material heretic for being against the death penalty. I guess they'd be going against church doctrine if they said that no one can support the death penalty.

    Abp. Chaput and Pope Benedict XVI, as well as Pope John Paul II were against it on a prudential, not an absolute basis. None of these men would be against it if it had to be done to absolutely protect innocent lives.

    But Catholic doctrine never says that someone must support the death penalty, just that one can be for it or against it. However, prudentially speaking, in our day and age, if we DID keep them in prison for life there'd be no need for it.

  24. I respect all opinions, but my brothers, remember the example of our Lord and what he said with the sinning woman, the one that has no sins lets be the first that will throw the stone. How can we discuss the death of a creature of God when life was given to him as a gift not by us but by the Creator as he did to us! Let us also consider who to blame for the offender of our brothers and if our system wants and how is capable to purify these deceived souls. Does it cost a lot to keep alive people who we believe are unuseful to us? Are we able to encounter the ugly side of the human behavior? The Lord first taught us to love even those who harmed us.

  25. Just to clarify: I am not opposed to the death penalty "per se"; I am questioning and yes, opposed, in certain circumstances, to how it is implemented, esp. against minorities and the mentally disabled.
    And it is something that in this day and age should be very, very rare.

  26. np, don't let compassion overlook the facts; her attorney alleges she's mentally disabled but from what evidence? Merely stating that it is so does not create a question of mental competence.

    I think it's horrifying that someone could pray with the victim shortly before knowing he was to be murdered.

  27. Church teaching on this doesn't include competence or appearance of guilt or innocence. It discusses it objectively.

  28. Nan: You may be right; I don't know the particulars...I'm just speaking from a more universal perspective.
    Anyone who is a danger to society, in any way, who is judged this way, according to proper and just laws must be subject to the law of the land.
    My fear and perspective, if you will, is that mentally disabled people and minorities have been executed in this country as a kind of "purge"...I can think of any number of cases where a black man or a retarded individual has been executed because of the heinous nature of the crime (or lack of proper evidence) rather than the justice involved.
    I'm no "bleeding heart liberal"...
    but I am very opposed to execution of individuals who somehow are looked upon as "garbage" or "misfits"...THAT speaks more of the "culture of death" rather than the proper execution of justice.

  29. And, as a further revelation: I have a sibling who is "mentally disabled"; I know what kind of insanity and lack of proper understanding can go on with this kind of situation; it is not exactly something that is going to be looked upon as "insane"...but some of these people are just out of their minds;
    Catholic moral theology, traditional mind you, teaches that one must know something is wrong, deliberate with some sense of rationality, and then do it with some freedom of will. Is this what is considered in our jurisprudence?
    This woman needed psychiatric help and she needed to be separated from society; but death?

  30. '...Catholic moral theology, traditional mind you, teaches that one must know something is wrong, deliberate with some sense of rationality, and then do it with some freedom of will...."

    Dear Padre Nazareth Priest,

    That has been the principle underlining of my argument.

    In this case it appears the woman acted methodically and deliberately.

    Good on your relative that is suffering for your Priesthood.


  31. "Suffering for your priesthood"

    Please please please don't tell me that means what I think it means.

  32. In Catholic teaching (Traditional) there are stories of people that have suffered for Priests.

    One Nun suffered numbness for years, and later found she was suffering for a Priest.

    I guess you won't believe another of my Catholic stories that goes:

    As a Priest was entering a Monastery, he stuck his cane in the ground before he entered.

    From that time onward, a tree has grown there whose only fruit is shaped like the nails used to crucify Christ.

    Traditional Roman Catholics; we got millions of funny stories.


  33. I'd say.

    Although I did hear a story once about a guy suffering for priests. Son of God, or something like that. :-)

  34. "...Son of God, or something like that...'

    Christ suffered and died for our sins.

    Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635) was a Spanish Conceptionist Sister that was allowed to suffer the pains of Hell for five years on behalf of her fellow Sisters that were rebellious. Some people are allowed to expiate, others to suffer on behalf of others.

    My remark to the Padre came from a Sermon I heard on Holy Thursday, 1986. It concerned Moses Maimonides, and how he came to be married.


  35. "allowed to suffer the pains of hell for five years" ... where is the source on this? I've heard of saints with visions of hell, or who felt it for an instant, but not five years.

    How do we know this story is real? Mother Mariana is not a saint, and there's also no guarantee that this story has not been exaggerated and added to over the centuries. I can find almost no record of her anywhere, except on websites that are scathingly vicious in their attacks on the Church. But a story like this seems to mean that she suffered more than any saint ever. I don't think Christ ever even suffered the actual pains of Hell, did he (didn't Hans Urs von Balthasar get into some trouble for suggesting this)?

    Sometimes stories are just stories. Sometimes they're true. And I know Mary Magdalene never lived in southern France.

  36. Approved by Holy Mother Church.

    Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, Ecuador.

    Mother Mariana and her suffering are contained therein.

    You don’t know the suffering of the great I AM at the crucifixion. At Gethsemane, where Adam went to cry after losing Paradise, He saw every sin that had been committed, every one being committed, and every one that would be committed until the end of time.

    Sometimes people are exorcised over a period of forty years, as the Exorcism in Earling Iowa points out.That is suffering over a long period.

    Expiate is a good word to research in its Catholic content.

    The Sinner was the first hermit. She lived thirty years, until her death, in France, doing penance and praying in a cave.

    The Doctors of Holy Mother Church relate this. Priests mention this in their sermons.

    I think one book you might enjoy reading is the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine.

    One story in it is about the ancestors of the Three Magi.

    Five hundred years earlier, their ancestors were on their way to make war against the Lord, when an angel stopped them and demanded they go no further. They were the ones that finally saw the sign that they would follow to Bethlehem.

    Very interesting stories, and Catholic ones, at that.

    Learn Catholic things. Make your thoughts Catholic. Most of all, make your heart Catholic.

    But stay away from in depth study of demons. Here is something I like to quote:

    The problem with the actual study of demons is that, for our intents, the information is full of theological errors. In other words, you will be up against heathen legend vs. Christian theology. It would be very difficult to sort it all out on your own. St. Albert the Great has some advice for you: "It is taught by the demons, it teaches about the demons, and it leads to the demons."

    Challenging, requesting proof, and formulating arguments as you do is the sacred responsibility of Roman Catholics. Generally, when people argue Roman Catholicism, they argue from selfish interests; women will argue Tradition is wrong, mainly because they are Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, and take Communion to the sick, which they know is sinful. They argue from selfish interests.


  37. Oh for the love of...

    Why, again, are people leaving Mass in droves?

    Old wives' tales.

  38. Pablo, there is no reason a Catholic has to believe that Mary Magdalene wet to France. No one even brought up this story until hundreds and hundreds of years later. Same with the magi, same with Santiago de Compostela. A Catholic is free to believe these things but they do not belong to Tradition, only to tradition. Disbelieving these stories shows no bad faith on the part of anyone.

    AS for the thing you listed bing sins, be careful how you judge. So brining communion to sick people is a sin? How would you know this? People did it ALL THE TIME in the early Church.


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