Ms. Ann E.’s response to my post against capital punishment poses a theological argument to my own point of view. If this were a debate, she might be accused of “cherry-picking” sources, but it isn’t. In any case, a personal moral position must always yield to a theological one, and so I yield.

But on July 10 of this year, Angiolino Bonetta, a 14-year-old Italian boy who died in 1948 after suffering from cancer for three years, was declared “Venerable.” Until the last, he offered up his suffering for the sake of “poor sinners,” as commanded by Our Lady of Fatima, to whom he was devoted. It’s easy for me to imagine that the “poor sinners” for whom Angiolino prayed are grateful that he chose to suffer for them rather than to execute them.

It has never been hard to justify cruelty. What has always been difficult is imitating Christ.