Sister Helen Prejean: Tsarnaev ‘genuinely sorry for what he did’

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Sr. Helen Prejean ponders an interviewer's question at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Conference at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Chicago on Saturday, Oct 26, 2002. Photo courtesy of REUTER/Judy Fidkowski          
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PREJEAN-TSARNAEV, originally transmitted on May 11, 2015.

Sr. Helen Prejean ponders an interviewer's question at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Conference at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Chicago on Saturday, Oct 26, 2002. Photo courtesy of REUTER/Judy Fidkowski *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PREJEAN-TSARNAEV, originally transmitted on May 11, 2015.

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BOSTON – "I walked in the room, I looked at his face and said, 'Oh my God, he's so young!' " said Sister Helen Prejean. Throughout its case, the defense team emphasized Tsarnaev's youth and impressionability.

  • The Great God Pan

    “In the gallery, bombing victims shook their heads and looked around incredulously when Prejean said Tsarnaev was remorseful.”

    It’s the only reasonable reaction to Sister Helen’s typical antics. Maybe one day she will be remorseful for all she has done to glorify and make excuses for murderers while causing further pain to survivors and victims’ families.

    But that seems unlikely. Being Christian means only having to worry about what Jesus thinks about your actions, nobody else. Which brings us to this:

    “Prejean is regarded as an expert on remorse…”

    What? By who? Where does one acquire such a credential? And how does it get attached to someone whose religion teaches that you only need to be remorseful to God, and he’ll just wipe the slate clean for you and you’re good to go?

    Is the idea that because she herself is incapable of remorse, she therefore has a detached and objective perspective on the matter? I guess I can kind of see the twisted logic…

  • The point of this is what? A sister with a silly apostolate (and dyed hair) trafficks in sentimentality on the stand.

    He conspired to kill three people and blow the limbs of a mess of others. Put him in front of a firing squad in Copley Square.

  • Larry

    I have to say, “Dead Man Walking” took a lot of dramatic license in casting Susan Sarandon for the role of Sister Helen Prejean. 🙂

    As death penalty punishments go, if it can’t apply to a co-conspirator for an act of indiscriminate death and mayhem, it fails to serve a purpose at all. Tsarnaev is precisely the kind of “worst of the worst” which would make such punishment suitable.

    My issue with the death penalty is that it is used too often when it is not appropriate and the ridiculous nonsense of pretending its a deterrent. It isn’t. Its punishment. Retribution on society for acts which go beyond the pale of acceptability. Something which should be only for the worst of the worst: Serial killers, contract murderers, murder involving torture or sadistic acts, spree/mass killings. None of this “felony murder” nonsense.

  • JR

    Though I’m Catholic, I have an issue with Sr. Prejean being farmed out as an “expert on remorse”, and cashing in on her celebrity from a film. I’m on the fence as far as the death penalty goes, but this use of a Catholic nun somehow rubs me the wrong way.

  • Earold D Gunter

    I would be in favor of dispatching this vermin as he has lost the right to live among humans as he has proven he isn’t. This is not for purposes of a deterrent to others, or punishment for him, or even for revenge for the victims who still live and for the loved ones who don’t. The death penalty has proven not to be a deterrent to other potential murders, it isn’t punishment either as suffering in life must occur for someone to be punished, and it will not give “closure” to the victims as this will be will them all the days of their lives.
    As for Helen Prejean, her words have no relevance in this matter.
    Put him down like you would a deranged animal, because that is what he was when he committed this crime against humanity, regardless of how he feels about it now.

  • The death penalty has proven not to be a deterrent to other potential murders,

    And how has this proposition been demonstrated?

  • TycheSD

    Research is out there. Take a look. 88% of criminologists say that the death penalty is not a deterrent. States in the U.S. that have the death penalty have higher homicide rates.

    Americans want to hold onto the death penalty despite the fact that almost all developed countries in the world have gotten rid of it. Still others, including Russia, are not actively executing people.

    Proponents of the death penalty derive some primal satisfaction from feeling the way they do. Maybe it makes them feel more powerful.

  • Greg

    Well I hope he is truly sorry for that bombing, which caused so much pain and destruction to so many poor families. Hopefully his sorrow is the first sign that maybe God is beginning to break through. He, however, is still accountable to the State. And unless the State starts holding these types of killers accountable, then this madness will only continue. At present, in our country, the inmates are beginning to run the asylum; just look at Baltimore. And that must end. My hope for this man, though, is that before his end comes, he comes to Christ, and receives baptism for his sins.

  • I’m against the death penalty because of the Golden Rule:
    “Don’t do to others that which you would not have done to yourself.”

    I’m against the death penalty except in cases where it is important to snuff out a threat to everyone’s safety – as in the killing of Osama Bin Laden and such types.

    Sister Prejean is an example of the dangerous, willful nonsense of religion.
    She’s just trying to get Tsarnaev saved to convert him to Catholicism afterward so he’ll say “Thank You, JESUS” and I see it in her testimony.

    “we don’t believe in capital punishment” – Sister Prejean


    And tell that to wicked Father Jozeph Tiso or the murderer, Father Serromba.
    Or Jesus!
    “Bring to me those enemies of mine and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Go home, Sister, to your creepy superstitions
    they are no less bizarre and twisted than Tzaerneav’s!

    Let the rational people handle the serious…

  • Helen cannot read that young man’s heart since she is human; but God, and his son, Jesus, certainly can. They can therefore know his heart condition or what kind of person he really is and if he was/is truly sorry for his actions against his fellowmen.

  • 88% of criminologists say that the death penalty is not a deterrent.

    Yeah, and 4 out of 5 dentist surveyed… You really do not expect anyone to take that seriously, do you chuckles?

  • TycheSD

    Do you think Helen Prejean prayed about her testimony today – that it would be as honest as possible? Do you think after all of her years counseling prisoners that she would know whether someone was pulling the wool over her eyes?

  • John

    There is no justice in death by execution, only the satisfaction of revenge.

    That makes us no different than Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

  • Michael Glass

    In Australia the death penalty has been discontinued for decades. The same goes for most other countries of the world. The death penalty might be culturally acceptable to many Americans, but that is no so in most other countries.

  • Vigilance

    If a person believes in a “just” universe whether through a belief in the workings of an impersonal karmic law or a personal god, that means one will have to undergo the consequences of their actions- good and bad. I absolutely believe that the universe is just, and I feel quite sorry for the very dire results that Tsarnaev will have to undergo in his next life. One cannot escape their karma. The consequences of killing, maiming, and causing so much suffering for so many people will be quite severe. No matter how great our compassion is for Tsarnaev, we cannot altar the karmic causes that he himself created. This is what I believe. I am adamantly opposed to the death penalty. Tsarnaev will get exactly what he had earned through his own actions at some point in the future- either in this life or a future life.

  • “I absolutely believe that the universe is just..”

    Tell that to the children of Newtown. Such cold hearted cruelty from the religious.

  • Diogenes

    Please explain what the children of Newtown have to do with religion. I don’t recall any accounts where religion played a role in those unfortunate children’s deaths?

  • Diogenes

    While ambivalent (as a Christian) about the death penalty, I don’t give doodley squat about Australia’s good opinion on the subject. They have elected to discontinue the practice. Fine. Swell. Good for them. What other countries decide domestically on questions like this is somewhat outside my purview, what happens in the United States is relevant to me, and should and will be sorted out on a state by state basis according to the U.S. Constitution as intended. This is known as representative government to those who can’t quite grasp it.

  • Greg

    Diogenes you are asking for a serious answer from a joker. Good luck.

  • Larry

    In other words Art, you don’t have a rational response and are just flinging poo. Nobody needs to take you seriously here,

  • Diogenes,

    If the universe were just, innocents would not be slaughtered.

    That has everything to do with religion. If God can’t protect innocent children from unfair events he is good for absolutely nothing.

  • Earold D. Gunter
  • Garson Abuita

    Anyone who thinks advocating the death penalty for an undisputed terrorist is the same as setting off a bomb that killed three and maimed scores doesn’t get to lecture about ethics.

  • Fran


    The wicked ones who refuse to turn their lives around definitely deserve death (and not eternal torture as some religions teach) for their actions. It’s the meek or good-hearted ones who deserve peace and tranquility until the end of time; and they will definitely receive it (Psalm 37:10,11).

  • Diogenes

    Within the framework of Genesis is the implication that ‘natural consequences’ result from the Fall, some of those natural consequences include evil in an unjust world. I’ve seen evidence sufficient to convince me a just and loving God exists. I recognize that you hold a different opinion. I can’t agree that the existence of evil eliminates the possibility of a just God. But my hope lies beyond this present world in a future I can’t yet see. I’ve followed your posts often enough to infer that Newtown was the very incident that caused you to reject a previously held belief in God. Pardon me if this seems a bit naïve of you, the unjust suffering and death of small children has been with us since Herod and Bethlehem, and before. But it seems not to have struck you until Newtown. That strikes me as unusual. As M. L. K. stated, ‘The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ In the end, this is so.

  • @Diogenes,

    “But it seems not to have struck you until Newtown.”

    But it hasn’t struck you yet.
    You can read about Anne Frank all your life. You can read about earthquakes killing millions – all our life.
    You will excuse God. As I did.

    My mother had a prayer she would say when looking for a parking spot:
    “Dear St. Anthony, something is lost that must be found..”
    And it would get her a parking spot every time.

    Why did God give a parking spot to the shooter at Newtown?
    He didn’t even say a prayer.

    You speak about ‘your hope’.
    I hope to live forever in a little shack by the ocean – but it would be childish to believe it will happen. And the price we pay for these religious beliefs is catastrophic to humanity.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine and execute them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    I wouldn’t want Jesus to be real even if it were possible to force him into existence.

  • Charles Freeman

    Let’s get all the immediate relatives of the bombing victims together. Let’s add their more distant relative, and friends. How about bringing into the groups their potential children and grandchildren. Ask the question: ” Do you think this man should continue to live ater doing the awful thing he did?” The death penalty probably shouldn’t be administered as punishment, but as an expedient to rid the world of threat. This man could never be trusted to act in the freedom again. He has no viable role as a citizen. He should be executed! Justice is served if the people are protected. Helen Prejean is another delusional irrelevant religionist.