by Gabino Zavala, Peace & Justice Director
At 1:31 am EST on January 13 Lisa Montgomery was executed by the United States Federal Government. She became the first woman executed in nearly 70 years. Her life was marked by extreme child sexual abuse, torture and neglect which led to serious mental illness. Our government continued this abuse by executing Lisa. Our Federal Government has executed 11 people in the last seven months during a pandemic. The executions of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs are scheduled this week.
As a Precious Blood Community, we promote the sacredness of all human life. As such we have taken a corporate stance against the death penalty. We promote life from conception to natural death. That is what it truly means to be pro-life.
The execution of Lisa Montgomery and the others executed in the last seven months have furthered the cycle of violence in our society. As Precious Blood family members, let us continue to strive to be pro-life Catholics.
Please read the statement from Kelly Henry, issued after Lisa’s execution.
As a religious community dedicated to the spread of the Gospel, we condemn the violent protest at the capitol building in Washington today. It is one more indication that we as a society are more and more placing our trust in violence and force to solve our problems rather than working together to resolve our differences. Although these rioters are a relatively small group, their actions can make us think that what binds us together as a country, as a people, is disappearing. But in the days ahead, the rest of us will speak up with words and actions to make clear that we are one country, united by the Gospel of compassion, care, concern, justice, and love. So, as we move through this crisis, we will do so by trusting in each other and in God’s providential care. Let us keep our leaders and each other in prayer.
Soon we will be electing national leadership for the next four years. It will be our opportunity and moral duty to choose leaders who reflect gospel values, especially those values that are at the core of our Precious Blood Spirituality. As the Leadership Team of the Kansas City Province, we want to state some of those main values clearly and urge everyone to use them as a guide in voting.
All are created equal and have equal rights to the basic necessities of life. This includes (among other things) food, shelter, health care, employment, educational opportunities, and freedom from discrimination of any kind. Our elected officials have a moral responsibility to enable all to have access to these basic necessities and should not relinquish this responsibility by handing it on to the free market, charitable organizations, churches, or any other entity.
Protection of Life
All life is sacred, as Cardinal Bernardin so eloquently put it with his “Seamless Garment” image. This includes life that is unborn, on death row, on the battlefield (on both sides of the battle), elderly, and disabled. This also includes a concern for quality of life, not just keeping people physically alive. We are called to elect leaders who will work to protect life in all these areas, not just in a few areas.
Ministry to the Marginalized
This is one of our major charisms as a community, and we are called to elect leaders who embody this charism also. It is not difficult to identify those who have been forgotten, who have no voice or do not “count” in our society – minorities, refugees and immigrants (both documented and undocumented), the economically poor, criminals, non-Christians, etc. We do not vote simply for our own interests. We vote for the interests of our whole community, the human community. The leaders we elect need to represent the whole community.
Interconnectedness of All
We are all one Body of Christ, intimately connected to each other and to creation. We need to choose leaders who believe and live this truth. This would be reflected in a leader who values working with other leaders and other countries. Such a leader would also work to reduce the divisions between us, like the division between the “have’s” and the “have nots.” Since human survival is intimately connected to the health of our planet, protecting our natural resources would be a priority for a good leader.
Our mission as a community is to promote reconciliation, and we choose leaders who will do the same. This requires an ability to see both sides of an issue and to facilitate dialogue and discussion to iron out differences. An appreciation of and tolerance for diversity is needed for Reconciliation, which enables the bridging of differences. Pitting one side against another is the opposite of Reconciliation.
In a perfect world, there would be ideal political candidates whom we could choose from. But no candidate is perfect, and no candidate models the values mentioned above perfectly. That means we must decide which candidates come closer to living these values and vote for them. This is hard work, and it would be easier to cast our vote based simply on one party, or one person, or one issue. But that would be shirking our personal moral responsibility to make our choices based on all the values we hold dear, and which the gospel calls us to uphold.
May the Spirit of Wisdom guide us as individuals, as a community, and as a country as we cast our votes in November.
Fr. Garry Richmeier, C.PP.S.
Fr. David Matz, C.PP.S.
Br. Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.
Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S.
Fr. Timothy Armbruster, C.PP.S.