Author Topic: Death Penalty  (Read 3499 times)

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Offline Brendan03

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Death Penalty
« on: June 19, 2004, 09:07:56 AM »
The Washington Post today had an interesting editorial piece on the death penalty that is worth reading.

In pertinent part, The Post noted something I have always believed about the death penalty GǪ

“About the only good that Maryland's death penalty clearly yields is a sense of justice in the families of victims and, to a less intense degree, in other citizens. That sense was much on display after Mr. Oken's death, and we don't mean in any sense to belittle the satisfaction that an execution may bring to these families. But it seems to us a satisfaction bought at an unacceptably steep price. For the death penalty is not merely an irreversible penalty, unevenly applied and fraught with grave danger of error. It involves the state in the premeditated killing of an individual long since prevented from doing further harm to society. Even when that individual's guilt is clear, that killing is still wrong -- and the power to carry it out is more power than any state should have.”

It is simply an abuse of state power, in my opinion, moral issues notwithstanding.  It serves no legitimate purpose other than revenge and it is not the state's business to engage in revenge killings.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53705-2004Jun18.html
« Last Edit: June 19, 2004, 09:08:21 AM by Brendan03 »
B

Offline Anastasios

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2004, 12:54:44 PM »
I would agree unless all other methods have been exhausted and execution is the only way to protect greater society.  If some blatently unstopable criminal were captured though, the kind that continues to carry out jail hits and buy off guards, I'd say though the state has the power to take care of said individual even if it means executing him.

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« Last Edit: June 19, 2004, 12:55:08 PM by anastasios »
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Offline OrthServ86

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2004, 10:36:05 PM »
Forget the death penalty. I'll tell you the only way that could work; prisoner island......



and you think I'm joking, don't you?  ;) I have been called radical on more than one occasion for this theory.


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Offline Nacho

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2004, 11:18:28 PM »
Quote
Forget the death penalty. I'll tell you the only way that could work; prisoner island......

and you think I'm joking, don't you?  I have been called radical on more than one occasion for this theory.

LOL.......SHHHHHH.......Don't say it too loudly. You may have given NBC, ABC, CBS a new idea for a realty show.
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Offline Ben

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2004, 11:52:24 PM »
ahahaha
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Offline Fr. David

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2004, 04:25:48 PM »
Oh, man..."Prisoner Island...where getting voted off is no longer an option..."

Seriously, though, thanks for posting the article, Brendan.  You bring up an issue that for too long has been polarized by those who would think our only choices should be the "Christian" one -- the so-called "justice" of state-sanctioned killing -- and the "godless, liberal" one -- that of doing away with the penalty.

It's nice to hear from devout believers who demand consistency from those who call themselves "Right-to-lifers."
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Offline ania

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2004, 05:22:11 PM »
Well, for me, executions are of last resort, and I would rather that the person be able to live out his life til his natural death, so that he/she has more time to repent.  However, if they've already got a death sentance on them, and they are without doubt guilty, then, rather than spend millions on housing them while they appeal again and again due to technicalities, I would say string them up, after all, rope is reusable. (Very unsympathetic, I know, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.)
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Offline Fr. David

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2004, 06:47:52 PM »
<coming down from his high horse>

Sigh...yes, I have to admit, this does seem to a debate where both sides' arguments have merit, precisely because they're coming at the issue with different goals in mind.

Speaking generally...

1) On the one hand, it seems to me that those who agree with the death penalty do so primarily for reasons of practicality and economy.  

IOW, "We shouldn't have to spend millions giving three squares and shelter to many convicted and obviously guilty felons who pose a threat even in prison."  A good point.  

2) On the other side, it seems that those who disagree with the death penalty do so primarily for reasons of morality.

IOW, "Actions such as the death penalty are a cop-out to our responsibility as followers of Life Himself, Who alone has the right to say when someone will expire."  Also a good point.

Have to say, I see both sides here, but agree with the latter much more; we shouldn't put a price tag on how much we'd be willing to pay to preserve a life, no matter how wretched it is in our eyes.
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Offline Markos

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2004, 04:54:26 PM »
I apologize but I believe that a few of you do not have valid opinions about the death penalty because you don't know scripture.  In Genesis 9:5-6 we have an example of God's opinion of the death penalty.  I agree with the death penalty theoretically since it is out of respect for life that one imposes such harsh punishments.  One point often left unsaid is that you can apologize for any sin committed, except murder.  It is a mistake which cannot be reversed, and one which does not allow for the forgiveness of the one who has been injured.  That being said I am against the death penalty in practical application.  My qualm is with the legal system, not the moral implications.

Offline TomS

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2004, 05:27:19 PM »
Give them 2 choices:

1) Die now
2) If they like killing so much then put them in a military unit like "The Dirty Dozen". Implant a chip in them so we can trace them with something like the GPS and point them to a specific "enemy of the people" (i.e., islamic fundamentalist) and say "sick em!".  

I am serious.

Offline Etienne

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2004, 06:16:36 PM »
Like Markos I do not necessarily have a black and white view of the death penalty. Like Markos I do have a problem with the process, including those countries and states which seem all too ready to use it on minors and those with developmental delay.

The UK and Ireland along with other EU countries do not have the death penalty. Whether Europe would be better and safer with capital punishment I do not know. Looking around I am convinced 'we' are not in a position to too quickly critizise others though.
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Offline JoeS

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2004, 06:58:37 PM »
Sure beats whats going on now in the middle east.

JoeS   ;D

//
Give them 2 choices:

1) Die now
2) If they like killing so much then put them in a military unit like "The Dirty Dozen". Implant a chip in them so we can trace them with something like the GPS and point them to a specific "enemy of the people" (i.e., islamic fundamentalist) and say "sick em!".  //

I am serious.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2004, 10:16:33 PM »
I guess I may be an weird as a conservative...but I have reached the conclusion that I cannot support the death penalty. No matter how I have tried to rationalize even my own knee-jerk "hang'em high" comments in the past, I cannot square the DP with my religion.
Given that the USA can support so many ludicrous expenditures in general by our governments including perpetual entitlements, I see no reason that we cannot just have 'Life-in-Solitary:NO parol ever'. We can afford it and THAT's got to be a bigger deterrent than facing death with a known date (we all die, after all; so the DP is just death-now vs. death-later anyway).
Add to this that I don't think the DP has any real affect on, say, the new terrorists, I posit the solution above (without accommodation for religious needs or diets, etc.) will be more or at least as effective.

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Offline Fr. David

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2004, 10:29:47 PM »
Here, here, Demetri.
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Offline Ben

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2004, 02:17:30 AM »
The new Catholic Catechism best represents my opinion on Capital Punishment:

#2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

« Last Edit: July 29, 2004, 02:35:36 AM by Ben »
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Offline ExOrienteLux

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2004, 09:01:15 AM »
Seems to me like Imperial Russia had the right idea: pack 'em up and send 'em off to the middle of nowhere to a work camp.  Make 'em work hard for 30 years or so; IF they get out, I doubt they'd want to risk going back again.

Was there being cushy-cushy so-called 'prisons' in Nineteenth-Century Russia?
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Offline Thomas

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2004, 10:54:48 AM »
Glory to Jesus Christ!

My youngest daughter's boy friend in college was gruesomely murdered/butchered  about two years ago between Christmas and New Years, causing great pain and anguish to those who loved him ---his parents, grandparents, sisters, friends, and especially my daughter who had thought she had found the man she would share her life with.  It was a time of great trial for us as we believed that life is precious and have been active in the Right to Life movement.  Vegence was the first thought of my daughter and then she prayed to the most Holy Virgin for help and guidance.  Over the months before the trial, she gradually found her heart changed from anger to pity for the murderers and she began to pray that they may repent. A great healing occurred in my daughter.

When the time of the trial came she met the family of her boyfriend.  They  all were to testify at the sentencing  hearing---in Texas those hearings often end with the death penalty.  The boys family were Christian (not Orthodox but devout protestants) and they told the jury that they had forgiven the killers of their only son and they wished him to live to repent from his sins. My daughter spoke of the sorrow and pain she felt but again, like the boy's family, asked that the death penalty not be given so the killers could repent and turn to God. The Jury sentenced him to life in prison.  

My daughter and the family of that murdered boy showed their faith and practice by their testimony in the Court. Their committment to the sacredness of life over their need for vengence was a great witness of their love of Christ and his Holy Church. They were healed of Hate and found the place in the heart full of God's love.

Perhaps we as Christians should remember that "Vegnece is Mine says the Lord" and that our role is to practice love, charity, and not to judge others so that on the great and dreaded judgement Day, the Lord will judge us as we have judged others and grant us even greater mercy.

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2004, 11:46:16 AM »
Thank you for sharing that, Thomas.
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Offline Ben

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2004, 10:10:01 PM »
Yes, thank you for sharing! A very powerful story, thank you.
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Offline Fr. David

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2004, 10:28:37 AM »
Thomas, that was beautiful.

Sounds like something I watched on TV last night re: the DP in Illinois.  Former Gov. Ryan, two days before the end of his term, stayed all executions in the state.

This was due in some part to the actions of (hopefully I get this right) Families of Murder Victims for Reconciliation -- a group of individuals who had lost immediate family members to cruel murders, yet opposed the death penalty for the killers.  I find their stand -- and yours, Thomas -- to be the truly Christian one, a moving affirmation of our Lord's committment to mercy and Life.

I apologize but I believe that a few of you do not have valid opinions about the death penalty because you don't know scripture.  In Genesis 9:5-6 we have an example of God's opinion of the death penalty.

And in Matt. 5:43-48 we see the following:

Quote
43 "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Mercy and time to repent is what is called for -- not an arbitrary punishment that doesn't actually deter crime and that is riddled with holes that send innocent men and women to their premature (and wrongful) deaths.  The accused may not be able to ask the murdered for forgiveness, but they can ask God and the loved ones of the murdered, and their souls can thereby be healed.  This should be our motive in seeking criminal justice -- not state-sanctioned revenge killings.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2004, 10:30:13 AM by Pedro »
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Offline Ben

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2004, 07:50:47 PM »
Very well put Pedro, I totally agree.
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Offline Brendan03

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Re:Death Penalty
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2004, 02:23:32 PM »
"Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.""

Yes, indeed, yes, indeed.  Many neo-conservative American Catholics are deaf to this, however.  The USA is among the wealthiest societies in the world, if this last sentence doesn't apply to the US, then it doesn't apply anywhere.
B

Offline SouthSerb99

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Death Penalty 2
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2005, 12:58:14 PM »
This topic was started once before, although I didn't get the answer I was looking for, so I'm starting it again (in light of the recent execution).

Does anyone know where I might find some information on the Church position vis a vis the death penalty.  I've read some opinions here, but I'm not sure it is the "official" opinion.  I searched the net, but couldn't come up with anything.

I don't want this to turn into a conservative vs. liberal debate (or I'll lock it), I would like some honest discussion on the position of our Church.
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Offline Bizzlebin

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2005, 05:11:02 AM »
Here is what the OCA says on the matter:

 
RESOLUTION ON THE DEATH PENALTY

August, 1989.

WHEREAS Orthodox Christians should be called to go beyond the political, social, and legal issues raised by capital punishment and recognize and address the deeper moral, ethical, and religious questions of the supreme value of human life in a manner consistent with our opposition to abortion and mercy killing, and in all such questions involving life and death the Church must always champion life; and

WHEREAS in an effort to further the respect for all human life and to witness to the redemptive nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who Himself prevented the legal execution of a woman (John 8:3-11) and realizing that premature death resulting from the application of the death penalty can prevent the rehabilitation, reconciliation, and redemption of the offender; and

WHEREAS, while we recognize the necessity to punish those guilty of violent crime, we also recognize that there is no humane way to execute a human being;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America supports the abolition of the death penalty in this and all countries and does urge our elected and appointed officials in those states where prisoners are still executed to introduce and support appropriate legislation aimed at abolishing the death penalty;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Council requests all governors of states where the death penalty is still in force to halt all further executions according to the power of their office, but that legislative provisions be made for life imprisonment without possibility of parole for those subject to the death penalty;

FINALLY, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox church in America supports and encourages religious bodies, organizations and human rights groups which seek the abolition of the death penalty.

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Offline Fr. David

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2005, 09:05:02 AM »
Amen.
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Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2005, 09:09:19 AM »
Coptic Orthodox view as presnted by His Grace Bishop Youssef of the Southern Diocese of the United States:

How does the Coptic Orthodox Church view Capital Punishment?

Our Coptic Church approves of fair capital punishment. God Himself instituted Capital Punishment and gave us the reason why He did so. We read in the Holy Book of Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man." This passage regards the killing of a human as an offense to God because humans both male and female are made in the image of God. The Holy Book of Leviticus 24:17 requires that "whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death." The Holy Book of Leviticus 24:21 repeats this. See also the Holy Book of Numbers 35:16 and the Holy Book of Deuteronomy 17:6.

God killed individuals because they had engaged in various transgressions. He sent the flood to kill all the wicked (Gen 7:6). In the Holy Book of Genesis 18:20, God heard that the people of Sodom were wicked and evil and in Genesis 19:24, God demolished Sodom and all of its men, women, children, infants, plants and animals, except for Lot's family.

In the New Testament, God's love and Justice were proclaimed on the cross.  For "Mercy and truth have met together" (Ps 85:10). Now we live in the time of Grace; however the Grace of God goes hand in hand with His Divine Justice. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Both in the Old and New Testament God is revealed as a loving and just God. In The Holy Book of Acts 5:1-11, a couple, by the name of Ananias and Sapphira were punished by being struck dead instantly for lying to the Holy Spirit. Members of the church were understandably terrified. Ananias and Sapphira's punishment was in this life. God did not wait till the eternal life to punish them.

St. Paul tells us "Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor 5:5). He also instructs Christians to submit themselves to the authority of the state, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and God appoints the authorities that exist. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves." (Rom 13:1-2)

Referring to the authorities, St Paul writes "For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." (Rom 13:1-5). The reference to "sword" might be interpreted literally (to refer to capital punishment) or symbolically (to refer to the power of the state to punish wrongdoers).
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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2005, 09:31:28 AM »
Thank you all for the responses.  Very enlightening.
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Offline StephenG

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2005, 09:33:50 AM »
It is sometimes said that the Mosaic commandment forbids execution by the state, viz thou shalt not kill. This translation into English is erroneous and should read instead, thou shalt not murder. Judicial execution and murder are not one and the same.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2005, 10:11:13 AM »
Coptic Orthodox view as presnted by His Grace Bishop Youssef of the Southern Diocese of the United States:

Interesting note, EA.  Thanks for the info!
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Offline Silouan

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2005, 11:22:08 AM »
That was a little sad to see that from the OCA - not that I am so pro - death penalty... I fear the Orthodox Church going down the road of the RCC and dogmatizing one opinion on a wide range of social and political issues that the church has no need to dogmatize on. 

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Re: Death Penalty 2
« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2005, 06:36:07 PM »
That was a little sad to see that from the OCA - not that I am so pro - death penalty... I fear the Orthodox Church going down the road of the RCC and dogmatizing one opinion on a wide range of social and political issues that the church has no need to dogmatize on.ÂÂ  

Well, while the Church is free to issue statements (and in some cases obliged to), that doesn't mean they will dogmatize it. Also, whether it has become a political issue or not, it cannot be put on the same level as "how much taxes should we pay" or "should this land be a park" kind of issues. Remember that even killing in a war requires penance, and so this issue definately involves the Church. Again, I highly doubt the Church will dogmatize it, but just because an issue may in some cases involve the Sate doesn't mean it is off-limits for the Church.
Fashions and opinions among men may change, but the Orthodox tradition remains ever the same, no matter how few may follow it.

-- Fr. Seraphim Rose