Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
July 8, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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July 8, 1990
 

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PAGE 2 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC JULY 8, In the first few weeks in June, I found myself in the'newspaper several times because of the coverage given to the executions of John Edward Swin- dler and Ronald Gene Simmons. Part of the time I was covering events. At other times I was simply demonstrating my opposition to the death penalty. Thq coverage those events was necessary, and, I think, fundamentally balanced. I had a difficult time, however, accepting the reality that every time I found myself or one of my peers mentioned or pictured in one of the newspapers, I found glaring mistakes. I was quoted so severely out of context at one point that it appeared I had said exactly the opposite of what I did, in fact, say. I was quoted so far out of context that I wrote Bishop McDonald a note explaining what I DID say to the re- porter, who like many people in the South don't know how to pronounce the word "diocese," much less spell it. My daughter's photo in one newspa- per was misidentified. My photo in two newspapers was misidentified. Msgr. John O'Donnell of North Little Rock, with whom a number of us spent time protesting the executions, was so misquoted that the result was a bizarre re-write of the Bible. Occasionally, you'll see Arkansas Catholic mess up, but most of the time what you see on these pages is a sin- cere attempt to report not only what people say but the way they say it and what they mean when they say it. DKH A note: CRS is accepting donations to help the victims of the earthquake in Iran (forget the government - we're talking women and children here). Please remember that charity holds no grudges. ARKANSAS CATHOLIC is publtshK148 times a year, for $12 per year, by the Calhofic Diocese of Little Rock, Arkarnms Catholic, Inc., 2500 N. Tyler St., Little Rock. AR 72207 (501) 664-0340 [FAX (501) 664-9075]. PUBLISHER: Most Rev..,Imclrew J. McDonald, Bishop MANAGING EDITOR: RoY. Nlo~t J. Schneider EDITOR : Deborah HilllJu, d ADVERTISING I MARKETING DIRECTOR : Ron M. Hall PRODUCTION MANAGER: Rev. Jim Schratz CIRCULATION MANAGER : Agnes Knlttlg Third class postage peM at Little Rock AR. POSTMASTER : Send change of address to: ARKANSAS CATHOUC, PO BOX 7417. LITTLE ROCK, AR 72217. Busk heSS hours are 8:30 to 4, Monday - Friday. Closed on weekends, Holy Days, and National Holidays. Offices are located in Morris Hall, SL John's Center, 2500 N. Tyler, Little Rock, AR, 72207. . W,t, m check for $12 to the above address, i I Name I I | Address I I lwrite moments after the announcement that John Edward Swindler is dead. My family has more than a passing experience with the subject, and I thought I might add another perspective to the capital punishment debate. The last person executed in Arkansas before Swindler was C.F. Fields, who murdered my mother-in-.law's oldest brother, Charles Mencer, my wife's Uncle Charley. My wife was ten when her Uncle Charley was killed. He was on his way to her house when the murder occurred. She came home from school expecting Uncle Char- ley to be there. Instead, she was told that he had been killed. She has vivid memo- ries of the sadness of the first Christmas after Uncle Charley was killed. Her Aunt Vernie commemorated the 20th Christmas without Charley by giving each member of the family a silver dollar. Uncle Charley left a wife, Aunt Vernie, a daughter and three teenage sons. He has 14 grandchildren whom he never saw. Fields killed Uncle Charley during Fields' escape from prison. He was also convicted for committing rape during the escape. The death penalty was imposed for the rape. My mother's oldest brother, my Uncle Morris, also was murdered. He was a part- time policeman for the small town of Hazen in eastern Arkansas. He was killed by three escapees from a Kentucky prison. They shot him in the stomach with a shotgun and then ran over him with a pickup truck. He crawled to his car and radioed the police station. The only people at the station were two of his nephews, my brother Glenn, then 19 years old, and my cousin Terry, then 18. These two nephews of Morris Green- walt had to pick him up bleeding on the highway and take him to the hospital at Stuttgart. Terry drove and Glenn attended to Uncle Morris. Uncle Morris repeated, IIII]WID()IIIIW Leon Holmes over and over, "I ain't a gonna make it, Glenn." Uncle Morris left a wife, a grown daugh- ter, a teenage son .................. and two small grandchildren too young to remem- ber him. Fields and the three Kentucky es- capees were white ...... Fields was exe- cuted. Uncle Mor- ris' murderers are still in prison but someday will be freed. They can write their families, and their families can visit them. They can read books, watch television, follow politics, enjoy a multitude of pleasures denied to Uncle Morris. Somehow it seems unfair. I attended the prison rodeo a few years ago and saw convicted murderers enjoying the pleasure of participating in the rodeo contests. That, too, seemed unfair to their dead victims. That is the question. Is it fair to execute convicted murderers? What is the fair price to pay for cold-blooded murder of a human being, created in the image of God? Is imprisonment enough? I admire and respect many of the opponents of capital punish- ment, but they never seem to answer the question: what is a fair punishment for cold- blooded murder? The people who murdered my uncle and my wife's uncle had escaped from prison. Sending them back to prison doesn't seem like any punishment at all. Even for those murderers who are not prison escapees, what is a fair price for killing a human being created in the of God? Anything less than the death peP' alty is a devaluation of the victim, a state" ment that society values the murderer m0re than his victim. It is an insult to God image has been desecrated. Those who oppose the death usually also denigrate the dignity of murderers, whom they claim are not sponsible for their a~tions. ment is a statement that the victim has value associated with God's image; it is a statement that the murderer in God's image, that he is responsible his actions. He is a man, not an animal I know that a disproportionate of death row inmates are poor and ~" notifies, but so are the victims. The moSt common victim of murder in our is the black teenage male. Rich people rarely executed but rich people are victims of murder. It is not the people : Pleasant Valley who are afraid to children play outdoors after dark: it is the people in Highland Park. Executing criminals who terrorize Highland would do nothing for the in Arkansas but it would improve the quality of fife for the po0f but decent people who cannot afford to move out of Highland Park. Some say that capital punishment is a~ act of violence, but it is not. When a pri- vate individual imprisons another that is violence. When the state does s0 after a fair trial, that is not violence. It i~ justice. By like reasoning, when a private individual kills another person, that i~ violence, but when the state executes murderer after a fair trial, that is If you want peace, work for justice. (Leon Holmes is a lawyer and a of Our Lady of Good Counsel parish Rock.) [IXIPL@Itlf @ Illt l &l%ll Fr. John Dletzen many years I have had a pho- bia about going to confession, along with several other phobias. I have undergone treat- ment for this but am still unable to receive this sacra- ment. Several years ago I had an ex- tramarital affair. I told my therapist about it, but can- not speak of it to anyone else n6 matter how hard I try. Because of my inability to confess this to a priest I have stopped going to church. My therapist believes I am forgiven because of my disability. Am I? I want so much to be a part of the Church again. We are obligated to confess any mortal sins in the sacrament of pen- ance before receiving Communion unless it is just impossible to do so. In your case, the impossibility is not physical but emotional. You apparently are confident that your therapist is aware of the spiritual seriousness of the sacrament of pen- ance, and that you are satisfied in your own mind that you suffer from a disor- der that goes beyond the usual 'fear' of going to confession. If the above is true for you, as it appears to be, you would not be obli- gated to receive the sacrament penance before Communion. "No one is obligated to do what impossible," is a fundamental of moral theology. Express your sorrow to God as estly as you can, and get back to and Communion. You have been long enough. Copyright 1990 CNS i YOU f. O Ilq ! ,ira. ~,~,.11o. lllmm ~. ..