scmo_banner_news.jpg


Sunday 8 August 2010

Cardinal O'Brien defends al-Megrahi   decision.

In an article in today's "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper, Cardinal Keith O'Brien has defended the decision by the Scottish Governement to release on compassionate grounds Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi. The full text of this article appears below.

ENDS

Peter Kearney
Director
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
Glasgow
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168
07968 122291
pk@scmo.org
www.scmo.org  


Like many others, I have been following with interest the recent attempts by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Senate to summon Scotland s First Minister Alex Salmond, Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill and the former UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to a hearing in Washington.  

This was followed by the news that the Senate Committee was ready to send some of its members to the UK to question British witnesses on the release by the Scottish Government earlier this year of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

The First Minister is reported as having said that there was no way on earth that Scottish Ministers would formally give evidence to a committee hearing of a foreign legislature, even if it were to be held in the UK.   Adding pointedly that it was impossible to imagine US lawmakers agreeing to such an interrogation on foreign soil. I too believe, that Scottish Ministers are accountable to the Scottish Parliament and ultimately the Scottish people alone.

At the base of this dispute, there seems to be what might be termed, a ˜clash of cultures . In Scotland over many years we have cultivated through our justice system what I hope can be described as a ˜culture of compassion .   On the other hand, there still exists in very many parts of the USA, if not nationally, an attitude towards the concept of justice, which can only be described as a ˜culture of vengeance .

The murder of 243 innocent people on board Pan Am flight 103 over the town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 was an act of unbelievable horror and gratuitous barbarity. It is completely natural and understandable that many of those most directly affected, the bereaved and their families would want justice even vengeance. It is in the midst of such inhuman barbarism however that we must act to affirm our own humanity, it is in these moments of grief and despair that we must show the world that the standards of the murderer and his disdain for human life are not our standards. They may plunge to the depths of human conduct but we will not follow them.

For the Christian the teaching of St Paul in his letter to the Romans is clear vengeance is mine says the Lord , revenge is not a path we should take. A statement from the Criminal, Justice and Parole Division of the Scottish Government earlier this year stating that The perpetration of an atrocity should not be a reason for losing sight of the values people in Scotland seek to uphold and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live the values of humanity and compassion , I hope is a reflection of a view that would be held and endorsed by people of many faiths and none.

Since 1976 there have been 1,221 people executed in the USA.   The United States execution rate is only outdone by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and China. These are not countries known for placing human rights on a pedestal. It is certainly invidious company for the world s leading democracy to find itself in.

The steady rate at which judicial killing is used in the majority of States in the United States would suggest that the deterrent effect often proposed as a justification for such a policy is not working. On 13 May 2010, Michael Beuke, convicted of aggravated murder of one man and guilty of the attempted slayings of two others in 1983, lost his appeals before the US Supreme Court and was executed by lethal injection.  

He had been on death row for over 26 years and was the 38th person put to death in Ohio since that State resumed the practice of the death sentence in 1999.   Ohio has only one execution per month to give the ˜execution team (Ohio s term) an opportunity to recuperate between executions. The fact that a virtual conveyor belt of killing operates among them does not seem to have persuaded Ohio s legislators that their approach to justice is demonstrably and completely ineffective.  

On 18 June 2010 Ronnie Lee Gardner was hooded, strapped to a chair and shot by a firing squad at a prison in Utah. He had been condemned to death for murder in 1985.   He spent 25 years in solitary confinement, and ultimately was given an option as to how he preferred to die: by firing squad or by lethal injection.  

While his actions were inexcusable his death did not bring back the life of his victim. His death will not prevent other violent murders. His death simply brought to an end a life of

utter misery and darkness.   His story is symptomatic of so many who sit incarcerated within the US justice system waiting to die. Ronnie Lee Gardner was first picked up by the authorities at the age of two, abandoned, wandering the streets in a nappy.   He was sniffing glue by the time he was six, taking heroin at 10 and sent to a mental home at 11 where he was sexually abused as a teenager. His descent into violence was as predictable as it was piteous.

Perhaps the consciences of some Americans, especially members of the US Senate, should be stirred by the ways in which ˜justice is administered in so many of their own States. Perhaps it is time for them to cast out the beam from their own eye before seeking the mote in their brothers. Perhaps they should direct their gaze inwards, rather than scrutinising the working of the Scottish justice system.

Scotland s legal system allowed the Scottish Justice secretary to release Mr Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds, following due process and based on clear medical advice. It was a decision for Scottish Ministers and no others to make. Scotland's justice system has embedded, alongside punishment, the idea of reform. It is one reason why the finality of the death penalty has rightly been rejected.
 
I believe that only God can forgive and show ultimate compassion to those who commit terrible crimes and I would rather live in a country where justice is tempered by mercy than exist in one where vengeance and retribution are the norm.

Subscribe to Updates
Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 96 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Church calls on Catholics to get involved in politics

| 2 days ago | Blogging

In a new national initiative, the Director of the Catholic Church’s Parliamentary Office Anthony Horan has written to Scotland’s Catholic priests asking them to encourage their parishioners to get involved in politics and to make sure politicians are aware of what’s happening in their parishes.       The call to greater political action provides each parish in Scotland with full contact details of their MSP’s and MP’s and suggests inviting local representatives to events such as special Masses, charity events, coffee mornings, and youth clubs to make them as much a part of parish life as possible.        Commenting on the letter, Mr. Horan said:       “The Catholic parish is the centerpiece of the community and it exists to serve all people, including feeding the poor, ministering to the sick, accompanying the lonely, and engaging with young people”.       Mr Horan added:       “Building positive relationships between parishes and elected representatives, will help reveal the truth about the immensely positive contribution the Catholic Church makes to Scottish society”.       ENDS       Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org     Notes to Editors:     An image of Anthony Horan is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/28347749242/in/album-72157670624194861/   2. The letters will be sent to all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes.   3. Full text of the letter is copied below:     Dear Father   Catholic Parliamentary Office     I refer to the above agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and I am pleased to enclose some leaflets telling you a little more about the work of the office.       I am keen to increase the level of involvement of Catholics in political life, and in relation to matters of both national and local interest.     The primary purpose of this letter is to invite your parish to engage with local politicians and consider making them as much a part of parish life as possible. For example, inviting them to parish events such as special Masses, charity events, coffee mornings, and youth clubs. You may also want to contact them to make them aware of parish initiatives which serve the community such as the activities of St Vincent de Paul, food banks and so on.      I believe that it is incredibly important for Parliament to know about the great work being done in our local parishes and the most efficient way to do this is to involve elected representatives at a local level and to make them feel part of the parish community, irrespective of whether or not they are Catholic. Your MSP or MP is also able to put forward motions in Parliament and this can be a very useful tool for raising awareness of local matters, such as the success of a St Vincent de Paul project.     I have enclosed a list of your local MSPs and your local MP. If you haven’t already done so I would encourage you or a representative of the parish to make contact with them. I also invite you to join our Catholic Parliamentary Office mailing list to receive our monthly e-newsletter and information on campaigns which might be of interest to you and your parishioners. You can subscribe to the mailing list via our website at rcpolitics.org or by emailing office@rcpolitics.org and entering ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line.       I would also be delighted to hear any feedback you might have in relation to contact you have with politicians.     In the meantime, if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me using the details, below.     Yours sincerely     Anthony Horan Director...

Vatican appoints Motherwell priest as head of Missio Scotland

| 09th February 2018 | Blogging

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has appointed Fr Vincent Lockhart as the National Director for Scotland of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio Scotland). Announcing the appointment, Bishop Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Motherwell said:     “I am pleased to announce that Fr Vincent Lockhart has been appointed by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples as the National Director for Scotland of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio Scotland). Fr Vincent has been acting Director for some time and it is good that his five-year term of Office has been confirmed by the Holy See.”       Bishop Toal added;     “The bishops gratefully acknowledge the dedication and commitment of Fr Tom Welsh to the work of Missio Scotland until his untimely death last year.”     Commenting on his appointment Fr. Lockhart said:     “I feel very honoured and grateful to have been appointed as the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio Scotland, and look forward to serving God and the Church in this role together with the bishops, the diocesan directors and the staff of Missio.      Missio is the Pope’s personal mission charity and is an expression of the fact that the Church is a family.  The work of Missio Scotland is to deepen that family bond between the Church here in Scotland and the Church in those countries where it is in need of our spiritual and material support. I place my trust in Pope Francis' prayers and ask for those of the Catholic community of Scotland."   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org   Notes to Editors   Bio: Fr Vincent Lockhart   Fr Vincent Lockhart has been the parish priest of St Monica’s in Coatbridge since 2003 and is the diocesan director for Missio in Motherwell Diocese. In June 2016, he was asked by the bishops to carry out a caretaker role of Missio Scotland until a new national director was appointed.   Born and brought up in the west and north of Scotland, he was ordained a priest in 1983 for Motherwell Diocese after working for a year as a deacon in Cameroon, West Africa. After ordination he returned to Cameroon. In all he spent 16 years living with the Bangwa, Mundani and Bayang peoples in a remote area in the mountains and rain forest in the south western part of the country. As well as being involved in normal parish work and youth ministry, he ran 12 primary schools and was engaged in road and bridge building projects.   In the mid-1990s he studied at Edinburgh University and gained an M.Sc in African Studies and an M.Th. in the study of Non-Western Christianity with a particular focus on social change and inculturation....

Church welcomes Bill on conscientious objection rights for medical professionals

| 30th January 2018 | Blogging

The Catholic Church in Scotland has welcomed Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activites) Bill which seeks to ensure conscience rights for all medical professionals and received a second reading in the House of Lords on Friday. The Director of the Church’s Parliamentary Office has also called for similar legislation in Scotland.     The Bill clarifies the law to ensure conscience protections are in place for all medical professionals to protect them from discrimination, enabling them to fully participate in their chosen professions and care for patients to the best of their ability.     Commenting on the Bill, Anthony Horan, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office said;     “This Bill could restore the fuller right of conscientious objection that was lost when the UK Supreme Court ruled that Glasgow midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood did not have a legal right to object to involvement in the abortion process. It is quite astonishing that anybody would deny another this basic right of conscience, a denial which flies in the face of Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights which protects the ‘right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.”     Mr Horan added;     “While the Bill only applies to England and Wales, its progress should be of interest to people in Scotland, where hopefully a similar bill could be presented to the Scottish Parliament. Conscientious objection is a widely respected concept with considerable international and national laws, guidance, and conventions protecting the right, a Scottish Bill would bring Scotland into line with international norms.”     Under the existing law, some medical professionals are not protected from unjust discrimination. GPs, as well as many nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and other medical professionals have limited statutory conscience protection. As a result, some areas of the healthcare profession are becoming increasingly inhospitable for those with certain deeply-held moral, philosophical or religious views.     Mary Doogan, one of the two midwives in the Greater Glasgow Health Board case said:     “I am very glad to see that there is finally Parliamentary action taking place to restore the conscience rights of those who work tirelessly day in and day out to serve and care for others. As medical professionals, we owe patients not only our efforts but also our best moral judgement, and this Bill would allow us once again to practise with the greatest integrity. I fully support this important legislation and commend it to Parliament and the wider public”.     Dr. Mary Neal, leading conscience expert, senior lecturer at Strathclyde University said:     “There is a pressing need for statutory conscience rights which actually protect those who need protection. The current law fails to do this, so this Bill is a necessary and timely step. I am heartened to see our legislators turning their attention to this issue, and I welcome this Bill as a necessary and timely step.     ENDS     Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org     Note to Editors:   Further information on the Bill and its progress can be found here: http://www.freeconscience.org.uk   The conscience rights of midwives was undermined by a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which held that the conscience provision in the Abortion Act 1967 did not cover aspects of their employment: https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2013_0124_Judgment.pdf   A recent ComRes poll found that a majority of the public oppose forcing doctors to participate in abortion procedures against their will if they want to remain in their profession: http://www.comresglobal.com/polls/where-do-they-stand-abortion-survey/...

English and Scottish Bishops call on the Government for swift implementation of the Sandhurst Treaty

| 22nd January 2018 | Blogging

Following their visit to Calais last year, Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Asylum and Migration for England and Wales and Bishop William Nolan, President of Justice and Peace Scotland, issued a joint statement calling for a commitment by the UK Government to help migrants in Calais. Following recent developments, they have issue a further joint statement.     “We welcome the positive aspects of the Sandhurst Treaty which will come into force on 1st February. This agreement, the first treaty on the Calais border in 15 years, will streamline the process of migration from France to the UK. Where currently migrants are forced to wait up to six months, adults will now be able to transfer within 1 month and children within 25 days.     The Government and the Civil Service must be held to account in implementing this decision, especially in applying the Dublin III Regulations which will allow children to be reunited with their families in the UK. This opportunity to bring greater humanity and compassion to the migration system must be grasped by the Government.     We also welcome the UK’s commitment to support France in its provision of accommodation to those previously in the Dunkirk and Calais areas and to greater co-operation in the fight against organised crime, including those responsible for human trafficking. Improving the legal means by which migrants can access the UK will in itself reduce the amount of criminal activity.     However, we are clear that the additional £44.5 million of funding being promised by the UK to France and a proposed tightening-up of border security must not result in further violence and brutality against young migrants whose lives are already marked by destitution and suffering.     We are very pleased with the announcement made by Amber Rudd that the timeframe for the Dubs Amendment has been brought forward to January 2018. However, we strongly regret that this opportunity has not been used to commit to an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors that will be welcomed into this country. We call on the Government to reconsider this position. The innate God-given dignity of all human life, especially that of innocent children, must not be ignored.”     ENDS       Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org...