Don't cry for Saddam: Pell

Saddam Hussein was in the "front rank of evildoers", Sydney Archbishop George Pell said in his newspaper column yesterday, adding that although the Church opposes capital punishment he did not weep for the executed Iraqi dictator.

In his weekly column in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Pell notes that according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, governments had the right and duty to punish criminals with proportionate penalties "not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty". But Pope John II removed this exception, he says.

According to Cardinal Pell, Saddam's case "certainly falls into the category of 'extreme gravity'".

Although not the worst dictator of the 20th century, the outspoken Sydney cleric said he was "in the front rank of evil-doers" and "an unpleasant piece of work".

"In an imperfect world there is little ground for complaint (about Saddam's trial)", the Cardinal said.

He says while the nature of his execution was not "entirely right and proper", public sympathy should be directed not at Saddam but to the victims of his regime.

"Unlike most of them (Saddam's victims), he has a marked grave in his home city, even if his coffin arrived on the back of a utility," he said.

Cardinal Pell said that according to traditional Christian teaching "those who believe in God the Creator accept that serious evil disturbs and distorts nature's proper order".

He says punishment is designed to redress disorder, adding that "when the offender voluntarily accepts his punishment this enhances the return to equilibrium".

"Punishment should be medicinal, contributing to the personal reform of the offender," Cardinal Pell said.

"I should pray for Saddam's soul but cannot weep for him," he concluded. "I weep rather for his many victims."

Weep for victims, not the dictator (Sunday Telegraph, 13/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Saddam Hussein (Wikipedia)

Vatican leads protests against Saddam hanging (CathNews, 7/11/06)
Cardinal calls for Saddam clemency (CathNews, 23/6/06)
Cardinal says Saddam treated like a cow (CathNews, 17/12/03)
Tariq Aziz's wife appeals to Pope (CathNews, 3/9/03)
Baghdad bishop defends captured Aziz (CathNews, 28/4/03)

15 Jan 2007