Vatican reaction has come fast and furious
in the wake of yesterday's death sentence
for Saddam Hussein, who was convicted by an Iraqi tribunal of crimes against humanity:
Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace, said that carrying out the death sentence by hanging would be an unjustifiably vindictive action.
"For me, punishing a crime with another crime – which is what killing for vindication is – would mean that we are still at the point of demanding an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he was quoted as saying by Italian news agency Ansa.
"Unfortunately, Iraq is one of the few countries that have not yet made the civilized choice of abolishing the death penalty," said Martino. The Vatican official ruffled feathers in the United States government three years ago when he said the U.S. troops had treated Saddam "like a cow" when they captured him.
Notably, Martino has recently become a patron of the US group "Priests for Life" -- over the summer, the cardinal presided
at the cornerstone-laying of the group's new headquarters in Amarillo.
Jesuit priest Fr. Michele Simone, deputy director of the Vatican-approved Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, said opposing the death penalty for Saddam did not mean accepting what he had done.-30-
"Certainly, the situation in Iraq will not be resolved by this death sentence. Many Catholics, myself included, are against the death penalty as a matter of principle," he told Vatican Radio.
"Even in a situation like Iraq, where there are hundreds of de facto death sentences every day, adding another death to this toll will not serve anything," Simone said.