Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI's lead clergyman on justice-related issues, said Hussein's execution punished a “crime with another crime.”A second excerpt, from the Anglicans, represented by the Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury:
“The death penalty is not a natural death. And no one can give death, not even the state,” Martino said.
The Vatican's press office also issued a more lengthy statement, condemning the execution as “tragic.”
He told BBC radio that Hussein deserved punishment, but not the death penalty. “I think he deserves punishment and sharp and unequivocal punishment.... But I would say of him what I have to say about anyone who has committed even the most appalling crimes in this country, that I believe the death penalty effectively says there is no room for change and repentance,” Williams said.And now for the Southern Baptist take on the issue:
But a Southern Baptist ethicist told Baptist Press that the Iraqi people had the right to execute Hussein with a process governed by the rule of law. “Romans 13, where the Apostle Paul wrote that God has instituted human government to restrain evil, allows for capital punishment. And Paul was writing this about a government hostile to Christianity,” said Craig Mitchell, professor of Christian ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.And finally, a quote from Dr. Richard Land:
“God has given the state the authority and power to carry out punishment,” Mitchell said. “He has given them the sword. You don't spread butter with the sword. The sword is used to kill. This execution was something that was long overdue. Saddam Hussein did deserve a trial. The rule of law did have to be carried out. And while we shouldn't rejoice that a man is dead, we should rejoice that justice was served for the Iraqi people who suffered under Saddam Hussein's boot for nearly three decades.”
“Simple justice demanded Saddam Hussein be found guilty by his countrymen and executed in the manner that befits such a war criminal, by hanging rather than a firing squad,” Land said. “The justice that demanded his execution, however, was cheapened by the less-than-dignified manner in which the execution was carried out.”The Southern Baptist response really troubles me, especially Dr. Mitchell's intellectual arrogance. Every work I have read about Romans 13, commentary and otherwise, carries with it some weight of intellectual honesty, that the sword could also be deemed a deterrent as well as a killing weapon but Dr. Mitchell has dogmatically and unequivocally declared that the sword is an executioner's weapon. I mean, you don't spread butter with that thing.
Dr. Land's blood lust also carries with it a very troubling sentiment; that Hussein rightly died by the hangman's noose instead of the more quick, painless, less violent method of death by firing squad. I am not saying that Hussein did not deserve to die but I am saying that this should give us a few moment's pause before jumping to so many conclusions.
Land noted that “despots around the world who are so dismissive of other human beings lives will now have to now take into account the fact that there is the very real possibility that they will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and also will be dealt with justly and swiftly.”Yes, Dr. Land, but not everyone shares your opinion. This from Robert Fisk of the London Independent, via Covenant News:
At first, those who suffered from Saddam's cruelty will welcome his execution. Hundreds wanted to pull the hangman's lever. So will many other Kurds and Shia outside Iraq welcome his end. But they - and millions of other Muslims - will remember how he was informed of his death sentence at the dawn of the Eid al-Adha feast, which recalls the would-be sacrifice by Abraham, of his son, a commemoration which even the ghastly Saddam cynically used to celebrate by releasing prisoners from his jails. "Handed over to the Iraqi authorities," he may have been before his death. But his execution will go down - correctly - as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this - that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing (and this will be the terrible get-out for Arab historians, this shaving away of his crimes) Saddam died a "martyr" to the will of the new "Crusaders".Tragically, this reveals much of who we are. I am no ecumenist, but Samuel Kobia of the world council of churches adequately summed up how we ought to feel.
"We pray that those who hold power in Iraq now and in the future will create a new heritage of government for its people," said the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia. "May Iraq’s leaders pursue reconciliation and mutual respect among all its communities."
"While holding a leader responsible for his crimes is significant," Kobia said, "each taking of a person’s life is a part of a larger tragedy and nowhere is this more apparent than in a land of daily killings."