Whether Crime or Punishment, Lincoln Bishop Says Love's the Answer
It's not the scent of gunpowder and tear gas, but those in uniform who ran into harm's way that one of the state's top spiritual leader chooses to remember in the wake of a Colorado theater shooting.Bishop James Conley led a prayer service in the wake of that shooting near Denver, a crime he describes as evil. He said, "There are images and smells seared into minds which may never be forgotten." He called that Aurora, CO theater, "A tempest sea of tears, grief, anger, and confusion."
Called on to make sense of the senseless were those like Conley.
"People who can bring consolation to try and make some sense of chaos which is irrational," he explained. Conley was the keynote speaker on Law Enforcement Memorial Day, at the Nebraska memorial in Grand Island.
He says faith gives him strength in the face of violence. "That's what we bring to families who are victims of evil acts in the world," he said. More recently, he watched the scene from Boston unfold from afar. And as he saw in Colorado, first responders acted heroically. He said, "They go into harm's way to keep us so we don't have to, sometimes we take that for granted." While the new bishop of the Lincoln Diocese made his remarks, Nebraska lawmakers were debating a measure that would eliminate the death penalty. It's an effort the Catholic Church supports.
Conley said he was watching with interest to see if lawmakers would vote to end the death penalty.
"Evil is best responded to with love and forgiveness," he said. "I think oftentimes to deal with violence with more violence doesn't seem to solve the problem, it's just spiraling into more death." But many lawmakers disagree on this point, saying the death penalty is needed for the most heinous crimes.
Governor Dave Heineman also takes that position.
While they differ on what should happen to those who perpetrate such horrors, men and women in uniform are universally praised for rushing into the darkest crime scenes. "Whenever something evil happens, light of good people shines more brightly," Conley said during his address.