Catholic Campaign Needed
The Catholic Campaign Against the Death Penalty was established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2005. As explained by the Bishops, the Campaign is based on Catholic teaching that offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment. It begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human person applies to both victims and offenders. It affirms our commitment to comfort and support victims and their families. It also acknowledges the God-given dignity of every human life, even those who do great harm.
The Bishops explain that our fundamental respect for human life and for God, who created each person in his image, requires that we choose not to end human life in response to violent crimes if non-lethal options are available. Such options are available today in the United States. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "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 definitively 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 non-existent" (no. 2267).
Texas now has life without parole as an option to the death penalty for someone convicted of capital murder. It is an option that both punishes the offender and protects society. Since someone can be incarcerated for life if necessary, we no longer need to take life. This is a wonderful step forward for humanity.
The Catholic Campaign recommends four things that Catholics can do:
- Pray for victims of crime and their families, those who have been wrongly convicted, and those awaiting execution.
- Learn about Catholic teaching on the death penalty and the criminal justice system. For more information, go to the following websites: catholicsmobilizing.org, deathpenaltyinfo.org, tcadp.org.
- Educate people in your parish or community. Visit the websites noted above for educational resources, Vatican and Bishops' statements on the death penalty and statements from individual bishops and Catholic state conferences.
- Advocate by contacting your elected officials . Share with them Catholic teaching on the death penalty and urge them to take steps at the state and national levels to curtail or end its use. To receive information on efforts regarding the death penalty at the national level or to link with a particular state's efforts, visit the websites noted above.
The importance of the Catholic Campaign to Texas is demonstrated by the high number of executions in the state. Through 2016, Texas has carried out over 538 executions since the death penalty was resumed in 1982. Currently, there are over 200 prisoners on Texas Death Row.
In their Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty in 1999, the U.S. Catholic Bishops stated, "We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life". The wisdom of the Bishops' statement is as true today as it was eight years ago.
Were You There? Read A Good Friday Message