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    Monday, August 28, 2006

    Our coalition partner

    Hang the scum. Or maybe not.


    A Polish church leader has criticized calls by one of his country's governing parties to restore the death penalty for convicted murderers and pedophiles, rejecting claims the move would conform with Roman Catholic principles.

    Jozef Zycinski, Catholic archbishop of Lublin, told a meeting of pilgrims that politicians tying to play a "strongman" image sometimes try to make their views appear based on Christian principles, but were actually based "brutally" on the premise that "'anyone who can't measure up to our demands should be excluded from human society'." Zycinski said. "In his encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae', however, Pope John Paul II clearly said the penalty for criminals shouldn't extend to taking life. He taught respect for life at all its stages."

    The archbishop was reacting to demands for the reintroduction of capital punishment by the populist Polish Families League (LPR), whose leaders have claimed justification in Catholic social teaching. Officials of the league said this week they had collected nearly all 500 000 signatures needed for a death penalty referendum, despite parallel criticisms of the initiative by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

    The church leader said circles still existed in Poland which "lacked respect for human life and its dramas."

    LPR leaders have campaigned for hanging, last used in Poland in 1988, since entering a coalition in May with the Law and Justice and Self-Defense parties. The party also opposes homosexual marriage, the sale of land to foreigners and the presence of Polish troops in Iraq.


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