Catholic mobilization network emboldened by the revision of the catechism on the death penalty

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BY ISN STAFF | Aug 3, 2018

Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization that works to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, this week celebrates the revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that, in any case, the death penalty is “inadmissible” (Revised Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267).

“Today is a key teaching moment for the Catholic Church. For the people in the benches, it is a challenge to actively build a culture of life by abolishing the death penalty, in particular in the 31 states which still have it in the books of this country ”, declared Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of CMN.

Catholics have been encouraged by papal and ecclesiastical authorities to demand the abolition of the death penalty for more than 20 years. During his visit to Saint-Louis in 1999, Pope John Paul II called the death penalty “cruel” and “unnecessary”. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in 2005, which ultimately led to the formation of the CMN. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI renewed Pope John Paul II’s call to end the death penalty, and in his landmark address to the US Congress in September 2015, Pope Francis called for a global abolition of capital punishment.

Pope Francis addressing the US Congress in 2015.

“In addition to the papal proclamations, the Catholic bishops of all states that apply the death penalty have taken a stand to end this practice. Today’s action further clarifies any remaining ambiguity about the Church’s teaching against the death penalty and strengthens the global resolve to end the practice, ”said Vaillancourt Murphy.

In the context of this week’s announcement, more than 2,800 people are on death row in the United States. Fourteen executions are scheduled for the remainder of 2018, including three this month alone. Vaillancourt Murphy added: “These upcoming executions are a stark reminder that the death penalty is active in the United States and that it violates our commitment to the dignity of all life. The death penalty is a failed practice that perpetuates the cycle of violence and disproportionately targets marginalized populations, especially people of color, those living in poverty and those with mental illness.

As the CMN celebrates this declaration honoring the dignity of all life, it especially holds in prayer all those who have been victims or affected by serious harm. Longtime Catholic activist against the death penalty, Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in 1998, rejoiced upon hearing the news this morning:. Shannon’s birthday is in six days, and I have no doubt that she is smiling from ear to ear as she says, ‘Come on mom! Let’s do it! ‘”

This review affirms that every person, regardless of the harm they have suffered or caused, has the dignity given by God. May this call from the Catholic Church energize efforts to end the death penalty and promote more restorative approaches to evil.

For more information on Catholic Mobilizing Network or to sign the Catholic National Commitment to End the Death Penalty (# Pledge4Mercy), please visit Catholicmobilization.org.


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