Seares: Invoking Satan on the death penalty

"People have tried to evoke God or devil to justify them in what their glands insist upon."
-- William Faulkner, "Absalom, Abasalom!"

PARTY-LIST Rep. Vicente Veloso from Leyte used the devil's name to push for the bill n the House restoring the death penalty. "If Satan is in front of you, what can the courts do?" he said. "Oh my God, bigyan mo naman ang gobyerno ng option na patayin si Satan."

It doesn't need much gall to utter "God" and "devil" in the same breath, especially to justify violence on a criminal. To Veloso, the rapist or murderer is Satan who must be slain, never mind if the killing, in the church view, also offends God's law.

The criminal justice system's flaws have been the No. 1 reason the death penalty has been abolished in two-thirds of the world. Religious ground places only second.

Stunned by the prompting of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for legislators to leave the Church if they're excommunicated, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes called the advice "horrible, inspired by Satan."

Threat of excommunication was raised during the heated debate across the country on the Responsible Parenthood & Reproductive Health Act of 2012. The bishops, however, didn't actually use it to retaliate against the RH bill's supporters and are unlikely to do so in the death penalty issue.

Though excommunication is the harshest ecclesiastical sanction, it doesn't sever membership. One is still a Catholic who can attend mass though he can't take the sacraments, except penance, or get church burial rites.


Lawmakers who defended the RH act were not excommunicated despite the role they played in passing the law that some priests call "the work of the devil." Other forms of “devil’s mischief” against church doctrines, besides the death penalty, are bills on divorce and same-sex marriage.

If Satan is not fishing, it is said, he's mending his nets. At the rate the devil's name is publicly invoked these days, he must be busy indeed.

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