As DC Sniper's Execution Looms, Virginia Bishop Urges Mercy

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) – As Virginia prepared to execute convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad, Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington called for mercy and urged that Muhammad’s sentence be commuted to life in prison without possibility of parole.


Bishop Loverde’s comments on this situation are disappointing.

“And in this despair, in advocating the use of the death penalty, our society has moved beyond the legitimate judgment of crimes.”

His claim that the death penalty represents despair seems silly and based on nothing at all other than his personal animus against capital punishment. I have never before seen such a claim and while it may get points for novelty I see no reason whatever to believe it is correct or that it has anything to do with the legitimate judgment of crimes - or even what he means by such a comment.

"Bishop Loverde acknowledged that the crime spree that left “entire communities in shock and fear” could lead many to “desire revenge and … even say that such a person deserves to die for what he did.”

This is another inappropriate judgment, implying that those who support the execution are sinners with a mindless appetite for revenge. He should at least acknowledge the possibility that people believe the execution to be the requirement of justice rather than an opportunity for payback.

He also compares this situation with Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery, but the Church has never interpreted that event as he does - implying that capital punishment is wrong because Jesus sent the woman on her way without punishment. I realize that a lot of people are inclined to interpret this story exactly as Loverde does, but as I said, the Church has never given that explanation.

All in all this was a very poor effort.


I agree with you Ender. It isn’t that the criminal deserves to die but rather that the victims deserve justice. Governments can only use physical punishments, such as fines, jailing, or the death penalty to give justice to its citizens. At least the criminal gets the chance to make peace with his Maker–something he didn’t give his victims the chance of doing. These crimes were cold-blooded and unusually cruel. The death penalty is justified in this case.

I think the death penalty is used too often, but in this case I believe the punishment is justified.

I would ask you both, What is Justice?

I ask you again, Have you ever lied, cheated, took the lords name in vain? How has your additude in the past effected those around you? Have you always been good? thought good? done good? If not are you not just as guilty? I am not saying you went around killing people but what makes your sin less than his? who are you to cast any stones?

I have watched this “justice” what justice is it?

Defining justice is not quite like trying to explain the Trinity; it’s really quite basic.

[FONT=Arial][size=2]Hence the act of justice in relation to its proper matter and object is indicated in the words, “Rendering to each one his right,”[/size][/FONT] (Aquinas , ST II/II 58,1)

[FONT=Arial][size=2]We speak of merit and demerit, in relation to retribution, rendered according to justice. Now, retribution according to justice is rendered to a man, by reason of his having done something to another’s advantage or hurt. [/size][/FONT](Ibid I/II 21,3)

[FONT=Arial][size=2]the act of sin makes man deserving of punishment, in so far as he transgresses the order of Divine justice, to which he cannot return except he pay some sort of penal compensation, which restores him to the equality of justice[/size][/FONT] (Ibid 87,6)

As to the question of whether the punishment is appropriate, the State has the obligation to impose a penalty proportionate to the severity of the crime.

[FONT=&quot][FONT=Arial][size=2]Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. [/size][/FONT][/FONT](CCC 2266)

Beyond all of this, however, Bishop Loverde’s comments were little more than calumny spoken against all who don’t share his personal view of capital punishment.


Don’t try to muddy the waters by comparing a mass murderer to a cheater or liar.

There are degrees of crime, just as there are degrees of sin. Stealing a candy bar is not as serious as recreationally gunning down over a dozen innocent civilians with a .223 rifle as Mr. Muhammed and his juvenile sociopathic sidekick did. If there had been any reason to excuse this murderous pair’s actions, their lawyers would have presented it at a trial. That didn’t happen. Now a clergyman urges keeping this murderer in prison for life. Let’s say Muhammed would live 40 more years in prison at a present day cost of $50,000 per year. That would total $2,000,000 alone, not to mention the expenses that would be involved defending multiple legal actions over the years. That money could be better spent, much better.

One point of note about this execution is how (relatively) quickly it is coming about after the crimes were committed. This is not one of those cases that has dragged on for twenty years; the murders and their effect on the millions of people living anywhere close to DC are still quite vivid and this will go a long way to diminishing the public displays of opposition to Muhammad’s execution.

Execution is the just punishment for the heinousness of his crimes. Questions of deterrence, protection, rehabilitation, cost, etc are valid but the overriding issue is justice and I have heard no argument made that this punishment is not just.


Oh come on.Please try harder than that.

If it’s true that justice dictates that one has a right to another’s life, then capital punishment reduces man to a means to produce an end.

I always try to find the churches stand on subjects brought up in CAF. Here’s and interesting article about this subject:

Kind of ironic. I now live down the street from the scene of the murder that gave Muhammad the death penalty.

No it doesn’t. “One” doesn’t have the right to another’s life. The criminal forfeited his right to his life by taking the life of another. There’s a big difference between the two concepts.

When someone deliberately, cold-bloodedly, and with cruel intention kills another person that someone has done irreversible harm to another. The victim gets no second chance, no appeals, no day in court, no opportunity to set his affairs straight, no last word, and no mercy of any kind. The victim is taken away from his loved ones with no farewell, no hope for another day, and often suffered terribly before dying.

It’s the victim who is bereft of his humanity by the murderer, not the murderer who loses his by having years of life to contemplate his crime before paying the just punishment for it.

Agreed. That was one of the funnier things I’ve read today.

That is not what justice dictates. Sin is to punishment as cause is to effect; when we sin we incur a debt that can be paid only by punishment. Justice requires as much and further requires that the severity of the punishment be commensurate with the severity of the sin. Nor is it the individual who has the right - and the obligation - to punish; that is reserved for the State alone.

I’m not sure why it is that justice is being given such a negative connotation; as the “mother of all virtues” (Leo XIII) it deserves more respect.


As the Bishop declared in his plea for mercy for John Muhammed, the death penalty is the triumph of despair over hope. The Bishop’s plea was ignored. John Muhammed is dead. All that is left now is to pray for mercy for ourselves and John Muhammed and for healing to be present to all those involved in the sad saga of John Muhammed.

I have mixed feelings about the death penalty. But am I sad that the DC sniper is dead? No, I am not.

The DC Sniper received perfect mercy and justice from God Almighty, not us.

I agree, I am pro-life but some people have forfeit their right to live. If it’s a 100 percent fact that someone killed like this then I’m not going to lose sleep over them getting the death penalty.

Some of these people are so crazy, instant death would be desired than being locked away in a cell for life.

Plus the monetary expense to keep them alive for their lifetime, have they not already cost enough. Emotionally.

For some reason when I saw that he had been executed I felt very sad. I have always been against the death penalty in all cases, but it’s rare for me to really feel sad about it.

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