Governor Landy wants the Louisiana Legislature to pass a bill that would add electrocution and nitrogen gas as approved methods for killing condemned prisoners. I’m surprised he didn’t add fentanyl to his list. A hundred thousand Americans died from fentanyl overdoses last year, and no one complained that fentanyl is a painful way to die.
Of course, the morality of capital punishment doesn’t hinge on finding more humane ways to kill people. The guillotine, which extinguishes life instantaneously, probably inflicts less pain than electrocution, but that doesn’t make decapitation a morally acceptable method of execution.
Governor Landry is a Catholic, and as Robert Mann pointed out in a recent blog essay, the Catholic Catechism states the Church’s opposition to capital punishment, calling it “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” Even before the Catechism was amended in 2018 to stiffen the Church’s opposition to the death penalty, Pope John Paul II expressed his disapproval. In a homily delivered in St. Louis in 1999, he said this:
A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.In short, the Catholic Church’s opposition to capital punishment is not an arcane and obscure snippet of Catholic dogma; it is an inextricable part of the Church’s affirmation of human life and human dignity—as is the Church’s opposition to abortion.
In my mind, Governor Landry, a good Catholic, is bound by his faith to oppose the death penalty in Louisiana, just as he opposes abortion.