The terrible spectacle of the execution of Saddam Hussein should remind all Christians of the pointlessness and obscenity of the death penalty.

The Church’s teaching on this matter is clear: we do not have the right to take life as punishment, no matter who the criminal is or how terrible the crime.

Capital punishment degrades the authorities who impose it even more than the person who suffers it.

This hasty execution obscured another point: Hussein was still being tried for other even more serious crimes, whose victims will be denied their day in court.

The Australian Government rightly opposes the death penalty, and it is sad that it has not spoken out more strongly on this occasion.

We pray for justice in Iraq, for Saddam Hussein’s victims and for all those in Iraq who are dying every day.