+Catholicos Scholarios-Gennadius III is the OSB Vicar General of America and All-Canada Archbishop New York & East Coast of America Ecumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Metropolitan-Archbishop at the The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church San Rafael, California/Washington, DC. Here he tackles the difficult question of spending priorities in a state which maintains the death penalty:
The Marin Independent Journal newspaper, whose headquarters lie in the shadows of the infamous California San Quentin Prison, reports that a large number of California’s disabled population staged demonstrations outside of this institution in protest of new spending on the prison’s death row. These demonstrations occurred in response to the news that the State of California has proposed spending approximately $400M to construct a new San Quentin Death Row while planning to reduce social service spending for the disabled in the area of $700M.
It is unfathomable how the California legislature can justify spending a large portion of the State’s considerably reduced budget in order to modernize the method of extinguishing human life. How is it morally or ethically justifiable to insist that those most in need should be required to sacrifice their moderate quality of life in favor of more efficient institutional executions?
In response approximately 200 disabled Californians gathered outside the walls of San Quentin to protest the State’s moral commitment to death as opposed to investing in the lives of its most vulnerable citizens. According to the Marin Independent Journal, the Marin County legislature has filed suit in an effort to stop this financially immoral project from proceeding. The Marin County Counsel has indicated the County’s intention of requesting a temporary restraining order from the Marin Superior Court.
In the wake of a nationwide financial downturn, along with the drastic stripping of state and county budgets, as well as announcements of reduced Federal government spending, California’s decision to invest in death rather than life is incomprehensible.
Such disregard for the physically challenged, ill, marginalized and suffering is analogous to the story of Lazarus and the Rich man parable as related in the Book of St. Luke 16:19-31, where Lazarus is depicted as lying at the gate leading to the palatial residence of the rich man, whose extensive suffering is only mitigated by wild dogs licking his festering wounds. In the current context, Lazarus is a just metaphor for California’s disabled and marginalized citizens who lie at the gates of San Quentin that will become modern death facility and an expensive ($400M) memorial to the institutionalized disregard for humanity in both life and death.
At the point in the assumed distant future time when judgment will occur for both people and institutions, which of all the participants in this planned suffering will enter Abraham’s Bosom or instead the Hell awaiting those who refused to slack the thirst of Lazarus in his unbearable suffering?
Which of the two above referenced expenditures meet the requirements of the “categorical imperative,” investing $400M in State sponsored killing, or investing $700M in the improvement of vulnerable but valuable human life?