There was an unintentionally funny moment during Pope Francis’ address to Congress this morning. He noted that the Golden Rule “reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” prompting Republicans in the audience to prepare for the rhetoric they wanted to hear – about abortion.
A moment later, however, Francis said, “This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”
You could almost feel the disappointment from GOP lawmakers.
Nevertheless, one congressional Republican in particular was willing to argue after the remarks that the pope’s moral appeal has it backwards. Politico reported:
GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said he disagrees with Pope Francis’ call Thursday to abolish the death penalty, calling the use of capital punishment a “recognition of the preciousness of human life.”In an interview with POLITICO shortly after the pope’s historic address to Congress, the Texas senator said he respects Francis’ views and the Catholic Church’s teachings on the issue, but “as a policy matter, I do not agree.”
Reflecting on his tenure as a prosecutor and state Solicitor General, the far-right senator said, “I spent a number of years in law enforcement dealing with some of the worst criminals, child rapists and murderers, people who’ve committed unspeakable acts. I believe the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life, that for the most egregious crimes, the ultimate punishment should apply.”
I’ll certainly give Cruz credit for creativity. It takes a special kind of politician to say he celebrates the “preciousness of human life,” which is why he supports the government killing people in its care.