Friday, May 19, 2006

For your penance...

Another thoughtful commenter ("Shannon") on my post regarding Rob Spaulding, the Mundelein seminarian pled guilty to killing two other seminarians in a drunk-driving accident, also thinks I've been too harsh, especially since, as she points out, many of us (she lists herself and I confess as well) have been guilty of the same. The end of her reflection deserves attention: "He owned up to his mistake by pleading guilty. He didn't expect to be treated any differently because of who he was. As Catholics we preach about forgiveness. The mothers of the victims have forgiven him. Shouldn't we?" (Read her whole comment by going to the May 6 post, "Who gets justice, who gets mercy?," then going to comments.)

I don't disagree with our obligation to forgive, I just don't think that means there are no consequences. Even in confession we get a penance, and I think it's necessary to make some amends, some attempt to restore what has been broken, even when that's really impossible. I'm not sure that should mean jail time--especially since our criminal "justice" system seems to care little about actually helping the people there--but I'm not sure the end result in this case was sufficient.

As to the mothers' heroic forgiveness, I'm still not sure why that should have bearing on a judicial sentence. If they were still angry, if they didn't want to forgive, should Rob have been sent to the slammer?


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