Author: Tobias Winright

Lent and Revisiting the Catholic Theologians’ Statement on Racial Justice

With Ash Wednesday, Lent is upon us. This liturgical season consists of forty days, not including Sundays, during which persons seeking to become Catholic prepare for their baptism, confirmation, and first Communion at Easter. It is also a time when those who are already baptized Catholics (of course, many other Christian traditions practice the season of Lent, too) remember and prepare to renew their baptismal vows. As my teacher, the liturgical historian James F. White, once put it, “Lent is the season in which we participate in [Jesus’] final trip to Jerusalem and the self giving nature of love...

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Open Letter to Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to Stay the Execution of Mark Christeson

Dear Governor Greitens: As ​a ​Catholic ​moral ​theologian ​ (and a former corrections officer and reserve police officer)​, ​I​ urge you to stay Mark Christeson’s execution, scheduled for Tuesday, January 31st. In my past experience in law enforcement and in lay ecclesial ministry, I knew first hand murderers, victims of murder, and families of the murdered. I acknowledge and ache about the anguish felt by loved ones and family members associated with the three counts of capital murder that he was convicted of committing when he was 18 years old. However,  there are still ongoing federal appeals concerning Christeson’s right to representation by competent and adequately funded counsel. You have rightly highlighted this basic Constitutional right to a fair trial and adequate legal representation: We need a justice system that does justice by all of our people. As a constitutional conservative, I believe, as you do, that the constitution applies to every citizen. I believe in the 6th Amendment, which guarantees the right to a fair trial and adequate legal representation for all. In recent years, other Republican governors and legislatures have stopped conducting executions, implemented a moratorium on executions, or even repealed the death penalty altogether. Among their concerns are: 1) fiscally, capital punishment is expensive for taxpayers and state budgets; 2) politically, capital punishment assumes too much trust in government, and relatedly; 3) from a realistic perspective, mistakes...

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A Baptismal Pledge of Allegiance

This post hopefully builds on or piggybacks Beth Haile’s “Where Do We Go From Here?” posted on November 8th here at Catholic Moral Theology. By “we” I am referring to my fellow Roman Catholics and other Christians. I am a Roman Catholic Christian who happens to have been born in the United States of America 51 years ago. I am also a theologian who specializes in ethics, the discipline that attempts to understand the moral implications of our faith as followers of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate revelation of who God is, how God acts, and what God’s will is for us on earth as it is in heaven. This means that I am a “theologian without borders.” Or at least I am called to try to be, as are all Christians, by the grace of God. For this is what we pledged—or have pledged on our behalf if it was done when we were infants—in our baptism. This is something we have in common as Christians, regardless of the disagreements among us due to our Republican or Democrat affiliation, our rural or urban location, our blue or white collar work, our formal education or lack thereof, and the other walls that sadly seem to divide the body of Christ at this time. In the Roman Catholic Rite of Baptism, the celebrant says to the parents and godparents: You...

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The Missouri Catholic Conference, Capital Punishment, Brain Injury, and the Imminent Execution of Cecil Clayton

This past week’s issue of the St. Louis Review, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, included an editorial, “Abolish Killing,” which highlighted how the Missouri Catholic Conference opposes the death penalty. The editorial offers a number of reasons why, which have also been stated in a number of places recently, including at the Catholic Moral Theology website. Also here in Missouri, Cecil Clayton (74) faces execution on Tuesday, March 17. In 1996 Clayton killed Deputy Christopher Castetter by shooting him in the head. According to Clayton’s lawyers, six psychiatric evaluations call into question whether he should be regarded as...

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Open Letter to Gov. Nathan Deal Regarding Kelly Gissendaner from a Catholic Theologian

Dear Governor Deal (and Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles)*: As ​a ​Catholic ​moral ​theologian ​ (and a former corrections officer and reserve police officer)​, ​I​ wish to go on record in requesting that you do not execute (and that you instead commute her sentence) Kelly Gissendaner, who is scheduled to die in Georgia on Monday night, March 2nd. In my past experience in law enforcement and in lay ecclesial ministry, I knew first hand murderers, victims of murder, and families of the murdered. As a Catholic theologian, I agree with the teaching of recent popes and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the death penalty. Sixteen years ago, while visiting St. Louis, Pope John Paul II–now Saint John Paul–asked then-Governor Mel Carnahan of Missouri to commute the death sentence of Darrell Mease, and the governor complied with his request. Moreover, John Paul called for the abolition of the death penalty: The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation.  A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at...

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