St Nicholas Preventing the Falsely Accused from Being Executed
This is the Church’s considered opinion on the matter:
Often, the Church interceded before the secular authority for those condemned to death, asking for mercy and leniency. Moreover, Christian moral influences fostered a negative attitude to the death penalty in people’s minds. For example, in Russia since the middle of the 18th century to the 1905 revolution, it was a rare occurrence. The consciousness of the Orthodox Church teaches us that human life doesn’t end with bodily death… that’s why the Church continues her care for those condemned to capital punishment. Abolition of the death penalty provides more opportunities for pastoral work with those who’ve stumbled and for their repentance. Moreover, it’s clear that the death penalty doesn’t have a proper educational value, it can create irreparable miscarriages of justice, and it causes mixed feelings among the people. Today, many states have abolished the death penalty by statute or they don’t exercise it in practise. Keeping in mind that mercy toward a fallen man is always preferable to revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities.
This isn’t dogma… it’s a theologoumena… but a considered one in step with earlier Church practise. Tsar Nikolai I Pavlovich pardoned all but five of the Decembrist plotters… an unprecedented act for his time. Tsar Aleksandr III Aleksandrovich routinely pardoned ALL death sentences excepting only crimes against the state (the murderers of his father went to the gibbet as their crime was treason against the state). The above painting by Repin shows that St Nicholas of Myra was no fan of the death penalty either!
You can stand with the loudmouth konvertsy or you can stand with the REAL Church. I’m with St Nick… not John Whiteford! I’m not alone…