The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Teresa Lewis: attention must be paid

posted by jmcgee

I’m grateful to see that Danielle Bean is paying attention — and the rest of us should, too.

Teresa Lewis is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night — and would become the first woman to be executed in the United States in five years.

As news reports note:

Teresa Lewis.jpgTeresa Lewis, a 41-year-old grandmother… pleaded guilty to her part in the 2002 slayings of her husband and son-in-law in their rural home near Danville, about 145 miles from Richmond, Virginia. Two male co-conspirators — the triggermen — were given life in prison without parole.

“I’m a little nervous this morning. I’m also scared. But I am peaceful because I’ve got Jesus with me,” Lewis told CNN in an exclusive interview by phone Friday, just hours before Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell made his decision. “But I’m good.”

McDonnell refused to issue a stay for Lewis, who is the first woman scheduled to be executed in Virginia in nearly a century.

“Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency, the judicial opinions in this case, and other relevant materials, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was imposed by the Circuit Court and affirmed by all reviewing courts,” the governor wrote. “Accordingly, I decline to intervene and have notified the appropriate counsel and family of my decision.”

Lewis and her lawyers had formally asked the governor to spare her life, arguing she has an IQ that is borderline mentally retarded and that she was manipulated to commit the crimes by a dominant male co-defendant. She had pleaded guilty to her participation in the murders, but now regrets her actions.

“I just want the governor to know that I am so sorry, deeply from my heart,” she told CNN. “And if I could take it back, I would, in a minute… I just wish I could take it back. And I’m sorry for all the people that I’ve hurt in the process.”

So, just to be clear: a woman who is “borderline mentally retarded” will be put to death for helping to plan a killing. The triggermen, who carried it out, have been given life without parole.

Danielle Bean, smartly, thumbs through the catechism, which notes:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.

And there you have it. (For those interested, you can read more about Lewis’s life and circumstances at this website that was set up to support her.)

Does any clear-thinking Catholic believe that this planned execution is an “absolute necessity”? Is ending this woman’s life — her broken, imperfect, misguided muddle of life, but still a life — the only way to defend others against “the unjust aggressor”?

We can only pray about this, and pray that those who still have the power to decide this woman’s fate will search their hearts — and choose life.



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Mike

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm


Amen.



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Gerard Nadal

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm


Welcome to the Culture of Death. It’s High Carnival time.
What’s so compelling about a lethal injection for a borderline retarded woman when we screen and butcher 93% of all Down Syndrome babies in their mother’s wombs? This barbarism is standard of care in Obstetrics.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) with over 2,000 memebrs is considered a special interest group within the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Marinate in that one for a moment. Among Obstetricians, pro-life Obstetricians are a special interest group.
Yeah… I can believe the state is going to kill a borderline retarded woman without flinching.
Where are the Bishops in Virginia? The silence is deafening. They should be out on the streets with outrage!
Business as usual all around. In a week, we won’t even remember her name.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm


Well, it won’t be the first time a developmentally disabled or mentally ill person is executed. If it happens, and it looks like it will, let’s pray that it will be the last.



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Sandra

posted September 23, 2010 at 12:08 am


May I remind the gentle readers and the Rev. Deacon about the details of this case?
Teresa Lewis, 41, is scheduled to die by injection Thursday for providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002 so she could collect on a quarter-million dollar insurance pay out.
Teresa Lewis and Julian Clifton Lewis Jr. met in 2000 at a Danville textile factory where they worked and later married. In 2002, Julian’s son Charles bought a $250,000 life insurance policy when he was called for active duty by the U.S. Army Reserve. He named his father as beneficiary.
Lewis offered herself and her 16-year-old daughter for sex to Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller. She stood by while they shot Julian Lewis, 51, and his son,Charles Lewis, who was 25, in 2002 in Pittsylvania County in Southside Virginia.
Teresa Lewis rummaged through her husband’s pockets for money while he lay dying and waited nearly an hour before calling 911.
Teresa Lewis pleaded guilty in May 2003 to two counts of capital murder for hire in the slayings of her husband Julian Lewis and her stepson, Charles Lewis.
The triggermen, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, were sentenced to life terms. Shallenberger, committed suicide in prison in 2006.
I do not know how or why she did what she did, but she was NOT the disabled person that much of the media is painting her to be at this time. Based on the facts of how two men, father and son, died, and her callus disregard of their lives…
I don’t know, I don’t know if I am the type of Catholic that can say “no” to this.
I do know that an Army Reservist, Rodney Fuller, and his father were killed for some insurance money at the request of this woman that was at the time married to the father.
Do not FORGET the actions that led her to be where she is now.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 23, 2010 at 6:58 am


Sandra…
No one is saying Teresa Lewis did not take part in a heinous crime, and that she is guilty.
But I direct you back to the teaching of the church in the catechism: “The cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
That seems particularly true here, in the case of a woman who had no prior criminal record (let alone a record of violence), who did not actually carry out the murders, and who has mental and psychological problems. In this case, life imprisonment is sufficient to protect the common good, and respect “the dignity of the human person.”
She committed a grave crime. But should we kill her for it? Is the world safer with her dead, rather than permanently imprisoned? If we decide that someone like Teresa Lewis is worthy of being killed, who’s next?
Dcn. G.



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dymphna

posted September 23, 2010 at 10:09 am


I feel sorrier for Julian and Charles. Plotting a murder for hire is one of the coldest blooded things a person can do. While living with her husband she planned his death. As for her being borderline retarded, that’s what her defense says so it has to be taken with a grain of salt and let’s be honest, about half the people in this country have IQs below 100. They live work and function just fine.



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Diakonos

posted September 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Please Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy tonight for Teresa Lewis.
For all those in the DC Area
There will be a vigil:
ALEXANDRIA
Alexandria Friends Meeting at Woodlawn
8660 Woodlawn Road, Ft.Belvoir, VA
Barbara Ginsburg: 703-455-0194, jbginsburg@verizon.net
John Carle: JCthird@aol.com
ARLINGTON
Clarendon Metro:
Vigil will be held in the public park between Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards, right behind the Metro exit.
Contact: Tobias Salinger, 816-721-4037, tsalinger79@gmail.com
From the Catechism:
“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
“If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (#2267)
Sorry, but the Church does not exist to affirm us in our ideological preferences. It exists to teach us (among other things) and challenge us with the truth of the gospel. Our posture is to be one of docility to the voice of the Magisterium, not to be blogospheric popinjays who glance at the teaching, declare it nonsense, and return to our comfy ideological holes. We are not, as Catholics, to play the game of Simon Peter Says, in which the Faith is reduced to nothing but a few dogmas, while all the rest of the Church’s wisdom is to be reflexively spat out if it does not comport with our cramped tribal pieties. Only thus and not otherwise will our Catholic faith fulfill the truth Chesterton spoke when he said, “The Catholic Church is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”
This premature taking of Teresa Lewis’s life make us all the poorer.



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Bill

posted September 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm


FWIW, the Governor is a Catholic.



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Mike L

posted September 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm


If one is to follow the wisdom of the Church, one must be prepared to change one’s posture. As I was growing up far too many years ago the Church was fighting the movement to stop capital punishment are argued vehemently that Capital punishment was quite acceptable and perhaps even necessary. Perhaps they were a bit too effective in their arguments.
My RCC either number its paragraphs differently or is a different version. Om mine, article 2266 reads in part, “For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.” It goes on to say that, “the Primary effect of punishment is to redress the disorded caused by the offense.”
I have been taught that sometimes capital punishment is necessary to right the disturbance in society created by the crime. Interesting thought.



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Claude Muncey

posted September 24, 2010 at 12:16 am


Gerald, the bishops of Virginia, acting together as the state Conference, opposed the execution publicly enough that they were cited as such in news reports (see article below).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/23/AR2010092306827.html?hpid=topnews
Actually Mike, your copy *is* a different version — an older version. The original 1992 edition was revised in 1997, I think. The most notable change was the alteration of the section on capital punishment that you refer to. The change was necessary to keep the CCC in line with the encyclical Evangelium Vitae.



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Gerard Nadal

posted September 24, 2010 at 2:06 am


Claude,
With all due respect to you, and to the Bishops, this case required a bit more than polite letters dashed off along with policy statements. Deacon Greg has written about the inexorable decline in Church attendance. This is a big part of the problem.
The Apostles were successful in Evangelizing a Death Cult world of Hellenization and Roman barbarism not because they sat in their synagogues dashing off letters, but because they took to the streets, had rocks thrown at them, were chased from towns, and ultimately martyred.
I’ve redirected my career to full-time pro-life teaching, speaking, writing, blogging and activism. When Terri Sciavo died the only two discernable clergy or religious were Franciscan Brother Paul O’Donnell and Father Frank Pavone. Not a bishop in sight! Not one. There should have been a wall of bishops behind that family for such a watershed case in the Culture of Death.
Polite letters and position papers don’t ignite the fires of faith in the people. If the Bishops won’t get their hands dirty in trying to wrest Christian Civilization from the modern day Moloch, why should married couples hew to teachings from detached and distant elder churchmen? Why should the young care?
I’m the father of my family. My children respond to me because I am in the trenches with them as they grow. I don’t issue edicts from my office in the house. I live and move among them in all that they do. In cases such as this woman who was murdered today by the state, a borderline retarded woman, it is criminal that the Bishops were not out in force with Apostolic denunciations in the spirit of St Paul. The people ARE watching and they get it.
They see men who are too timid to speak up, for fear of losing their tax-exempt status, and are instead losing the Church from under their feet.



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted September 24, 2010 at 6:06 am


Back in March, I came across a quotation from Fr.Ron Rolheiser, OMI and used it on my blog and Deacon Greg was kind enough to use it here. I will repeat it today as I say a prayer for Teresa Lewis, for her husband and stepson and for all who think that her execution is somehow a good and just thing.
Let us remember that our Lord Jesus was also put to death, with many cheering his crucifixion on.
“To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description.
It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender.
To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.”



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Mike L

posted September 24, 2010 at 10:24 am


Thank you, Claude. Interesting enough my RCC does not seem to have a date of publication, only the copyright dates of the scriptural quotes, etc., used. It does make my point that Church positions do change, and what is right and acceptable may not be acceptable next year.
I have mixed feelings about exchanging the death penalty for life without parole. Even at my advanced age the thought of living out the rest of my life in a cage is not one that I would contemplate calmly nor do I think it really recognizes the dignity of man. For someone that has 30, 40, or more years of life to look forward to, it must be a horrible torture.
I think another consideration might be the requirement of those who were wrong to support the criminal through paying taxes. On the other hand, we support the killing of people via remotely controlled rockets, so maybe that isn’t that much of burden.



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