Consistent with the church’s long held position that capital punishment is always wrong, the Vatican came out this past weekend and denounced the execution of Saddam Hussein.

“Killing the guilty one is not the way to rebuild justice and reconcile society,” the spokesman said. “On the contrary, there is the risk that the spirit of revenge is fueled and that the seeds of new violence are sown.”

My primary objection to the death penalty is based in practicality. It is difficult to ensure with 100% certainty that the man or woman to be executed is, in fact, the one guilty – and it’s impossible to correct a mistake once someone has died. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not shedding any tears for Hussein. He’s one of the cases, like a Dahmer or Gacy, where there is no doubt at all of his guilt, and his crimes were among the most heinous. But as the Holy See points out, vengeance is not the same thing as justice, and often begets yet more violence.

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