Choose Life: End the Death Penalty

Last month, when writing about the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding that South Carolina's "Choose Life" license plates violated the First Amendment, we opined:

We have a simple solution. Allow "Choose Life" license plates, provided they include the phrase "End the Death Penalty."

We're pleased to report that a growing number of Catholics are beginning to question the support for one, but not the other:

A question has been gnawing at Frank A. McNeirney since he read that some Roman Catholic bishops want to deny Communion to Catholic politicians, such as Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, whose public positions are at odds with church doctrine. "Does this only apply to abortion?" asked McNeirney, 67, of Bethesda. "What about the death penalty?"

....Some Catholic publications, educators and elected officials are also warning that church leaders may appear hypocritical or partisan if they condemn Kerry because he favors abortion rights while they say nothing about Catholic governors who allow executions, Catholic members of Congress who support the Iraq war or Catholic officials at all levels who ignore the church's teachings on social justice.

The weekly National Catholic Reporter, a leading voice of liberal Catholics, took issue in an editorial last week with "those among the Catholic laity and hierarchy . . . who argue that abortion trumps all other issues in the upcoming election." The editorial reminded Catholics that there are "other issues -- war and peace, immigration, tax cuts, housing, the death penalty, economic justice, welfare reform, the federal deficit, civil liberties, education, health care, crime, and on and on." "Are we permitted to consider these right-to-life issues?" the newspaper asked. "These issues -- it seems strange to have to say it -- matter too. In this election, in fact, they matter more than abortion, which is not on the table in any significant way."

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