'Death Penalty'

Pope Francis: Death Penalty is Contrary to Gospel

Posted on 27. Nov, 2017 by .


Taken from Catholic Legislative Network:

In his October 11 speech to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Pope Francis issued his strongest statement against the death penalty, calling it “contrary to the Gospel,” and “an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”

The Council was gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II.

The Holy Father made it known at the meeting that he is calling for the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be revised to reflect this new perspective on capital punishment.

“It is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred,” he said. “In the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor.”

While allowing for the death penalty throughout its history, the Church has never been comfortable with the concept.  In fact, St. John Paul II had the second draft of the Catechism he commissioned revised by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) to strongly question the use of the death penalty in any circumstances.

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Posted on 02. Nov, 2017 by .


Just over a year ago our Sisters were murdered in Durant, Mississippi. Rodney Earl Sanders, a man who had been temporarily living across the street from the two, was arrested and charged with their brutal deaths. No motive has been given to date.2017-10-16

Sister Margaret M. Held, a School Sister of St. Francis, and Sister  Paula J. Merrill, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, were members of our religious communities.  They were beloved and deeply committed nurse practitioners serving some of the poorest children and families in the country. They believed in the sacredness of life. In the wake of our unspeakable loss, and in light of the five executions scheduled this month, it has become even more important that we renew our call to end the death penalty.

When we heard the tragic news last year, we immediately recognized the need to reiterate our beliefs as women of faith, that we value ALL life. We knew how Sisters Margaret and Paula would have responded to such a tragedy. October provides an especially opportune time to celebrate their lives by renewing our call for an end to the death penalty: October 10th marks the 15th annual celebration of World Day Against the Death Penalty, and in the Catholic Church, October is known as “Respect Life Month.”

This year’s World Day Against the Death Penalty theme highlights the connection between the death penalty and poverty, and is especially fitting. Our Sisters committed their lives to serving those living in poverty and vulnerable situations. The community health clinic where Sisters Margaret and Paula worked is located in the seventh poorest county in the country.  Mississippi as a whole, represents the poorest state in the nation, with over 20% of the population living in poverty.

These women of faith saw firsthand the realities of poverty every day in their clinic. They understood the precarious ways poverty intersects with the criminal justice system.  Rather than working to heal the harm created by violence, the criminal justice system–including the death penalty–disproportionately penalizes those living in poverty.

Poverty is perhaps the single most significant factor to determine whether or not someone will receive a death sentence. Nationally, almost all death row inmates are unable to afford their own attorney at trial. Public defenders often find themselves with unmanageable caseloads and few resources. This often results in poorly handled cases where mitigating factors such as severe mental illness, intellectual disability, or childhood abuse and trauma are not presented.

The five executions slated for this month are examples of the perilous ways poverty can influence the death penalty. Among these five individuals are claims of innocence, as well as situations of poor counsel, mental and intellectual impairment, and childhood trauma.

As we mourn the loss of Sister Margaret and Sister Paula, we know the great pain and suffering acts of violence cause for victims and their families. We also know that the death penalty will not allow us to heal from the harm we have experienced. The death penalty denies our call to be a people of life and is not restorative. It violates the God-given dignity of the human person and favors vengeance over reconciliation and transformation. This is why we are working to heal the harm done and stop perpetuating the cycle of violence with more killing.

We know too well the burden that death of any kind leaves in its wake.

The lives of Sisters Margaret and Paula embolden us to make justice and mercy meet. Their lives and work demonstrated what the Catholic Church calls a “preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.”  Join us in following their dedication to caring for and serving others, to holding all life sacred, by ending the death penalty.

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Archbishop Cordileone Issues Statement on Death Penalty

Posted on 25. Sep, 2016 by .


Three years ago at this time I was part of a delegation of California bishops who paid a pastoral visit to San Quentin State Prison.  While there, we had the opportunity to meet with a number of the inmates on death row, hearing their stories, learning of the misfortunes in their lives, and becoming sensitized to their deep spiritual yearnings and innate desire for God.  The experience put a human face on a tragic human condition that we very comfortably can – and usually do – completely ignore.

This experience also highlights the challenge we as a society face in determining how we can foster peace in this increasingly violent and complicated world.  The answer is certainly not by inflicting more violence.  As we, the Catholic bishops of California, said in our statement reaffirming our opposition to the death penalty: “Our support to end the use of the death penalty is also rooted in our unshakable resolve to accompany and support all victims of crime….  As we pray with them and mourn with them we must also stress that the current use of the death penalty does not promote healing.  It only brings more violence to a world that has too much violence already.”

We teach on this sensitive matter aware of the complexities of this issue, but also in communion with the bishops throughout the United States, with conferences of bishops throughout the world, and with the consistent teachings of the Popes of our time.  As Pope Francis has recently stated: “The death penalty is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it … does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance… the basic purpose of all punishment is the rehabilitation of the offender” (message to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, June 2016).

As California citizens we have an opportunity to make our voices heard on behalf of the inviolability of human life and for rehabilitation over retribution.  I ask you to join me in voting to end the death penalty in our state by voting Yes on Proposition 62, and voting No on 66.  Doing so will put to end the myths of capital punishment – such as the assertion that it serves as a deterrent to violent crimes – and also to the flaws it perpetrates, such as its disproportionate use on the poor and minorities.  Most tragic of all, though, is the finality of the sentence: no restitution is possible for a wrongful execution.  Since 1973, 151 people have been released from death rows in the United States due to evidence of their wrongful convictions.  How many were not so fortunate?

Voting Yes on Proposition 62 will be a vote affirming the human dignity of those on death row, affording them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.  I also ask you to join me and my fellow California bishops by opposing Proposition 66.  This Proposition would expedite executions in California.  A rush to streamline that process will inevitably result in the execution of more innocent people.

In a decisive historical moment for the ancient people of Israel, when they were about to cross the Jordan River to occupy the Promised Land after wandering forty years in the Sinai Desert, Moses told them: “I set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you … may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

We are likewise at a decisive moment in our country and state, and we, too, are given the same choice, a choice we will make when casting our vote this November.  Let us choose life, then, that we may live.

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A Look Inside American’s Largest Death Row

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .


The following is from a writer from Yahoo:

tumblr_inline_o1mbismhpv1tgkppw_500Nearly 750 men who have all been condemned to death live in San Quentin State Prison, California, home to the largest death row in America. Many inmates have been held in the facility for years, unsure when and if the lethal injection – the punishment allotted to them – will be administered. Executions are currently on hold in the state while a new three-drug method is considered to replace the previous one-drug technique, which was ruled to be a cruel and unusual punishment by a federal judge in 2002. This state of limbo means inmates are currently more likely to die from natural causes than to be executed. Inmates receive a minimum of 10 hours recreation time each week, spent in the caged tumblr_inline_o1mddq5uo01tgkppw_500prison yard. They are able to communicate with their cell neighbours, and to purchase small TVs to watch. Since 1978, 13 people have been executed in California.tumblr_inline_o1mczgxwQf1tgkppw_500







For the full story and for more photos, click here. 

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Death Penalty Statement by US Bishops

Posted on 29. Jul, 2015 by .


The bishops chairing two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed the bishops’ opposition to the death penalty in a message, July 16. The message commemorated the 10th anniversary of the bishops’ Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty and their accompanying message, “A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.”

“Our faith tradition offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment, one grounded in mercy and healing, not punishment for its own sake. No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. Today, we have this capability,” wrote Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston.

To read more, click here.

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