Oklahoma archbishop disappointed by clemency denial

Oklahoma archbishop disappointed by clemency denial

Benjamin Cole was refused mercy by a parole board one day earlier, and the archbishop of Oklahoma City expressed his displeasure with the decision.

“The Pardon and Parole Board’s refusal of mercy is distressing,” Archbishop Paul Coakley stated on September 28. “There is scarcely any justice to be found in taking the life of a man who is hardly able to talk and without the fundamental knowledge of why the state is pursuing his execution.”

The repercussions of Benjamin Cole’s crippling mental illness must also be acknowledged, even if it is too late to provide him the attention or therapy that would have stopped him from committing his crime over 20 years ago.

Cole “should be allowed to live out what is left of his life in the hope that he obtains the mental health treatment he ought to have gotten decades ago,” the archbishop added. Pray that God would console and provide peace to the families of the violent crime victims. Pray for the welfare of the condemned person’s soul and the those engaged in his execution.

On September 27, the Pardon and Parole Board decided 4-1 not to grant Cole, 57, clemency.

Cole murdered Brianna, his 9-month-old daughter, in 2002.

According to the AP, Cole’s counsel insisted that he is “severely mentally ill and that he has a developing tumor on his brain.” He has rejected medical treatment and has little to no social interaction, according to the board’s legal counsel.

Although Cole’s lawyers claim he is mentally sick to the point of catatonia, the reality is that Cole completely participated in a mental examination in July of this year, according to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, who applauded the panel’s decision.

“Mr. Cole does not now demonstrate any major, overt indicators of mental illness, intellectual impairment, and/or neurocognitive impairment,” the evaluator, who was not retained by Cole or the State, concluded. Cole was also judged to be competent to be executed.

Prosecutors “noted that [Brianna] had multiple injuries consistent with a history of abuse,” according to the AP, noting that Cole had previously served time in prison for the mistreatment of another of his young children.

The board was petitioned by Brianna’s mother’s family to reject clemency.

Cole’s competency to be executed will be decided by a county judge, who will also rule if a trial will be conducted.

The Oklahoma governor is unable to commute Cole’s sentence since the parole board rejected Cole’s request for mercy. Cole will be put to death by lethal injection on October 20.

Although the Church holds that the death penalty is not inherently wrong, Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors have both spoken out against the use in the West.

In regards to capital punishment, the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that civil authorities “punish the wicked and protect the innocent” via their “legal and rational exercise.”

According to St. John Paul II, “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the instance of someone who has done immense evil.” He urged Christians to be “unconditionally pro-life.” Additionally, he expressed his wish for an agreement to abolish the death sentence, which he described as “cruel and useless.”

Furthermore, Benedict XVI urged global leaders to “make every effort to abolish the death penalty” and informed Catholics that doing so was crucial to “conforming criminal legislation both to the human dignity of inmates and the efficient preservation of public order.”

A revised version of the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that addresses the death penalty was published in August 2018 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The new paragraph quotes Pope Francis as saying that “the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and she works with determination for its abolition throughout the world,” in reference to a speech he gave on October 11, 2017.

According to the paragraph, reasons for modifying the curriculum include the increased efficacy of detention systems, a greater appreciation for a person’s inalienable dignity, and the prospect of conversion.

This alteration, in the opinion of Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., a moral theologian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., “further absolutizes the pastoral conclusion expressed by John Paul II,” CNA reported at the time.

Nothing in the revised language of paragraph 2267 implies that the death penalty is inherently wrong. In fact, nothing could imply such since it would go against the unwavering teaching of the Church, said Fr. Petri.

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