Leading Catholics Pledge to End the Death Penalty

Catholic Mobilizing Network is encouraging people to pledge to end the death penalty:

“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom” – Pope Francis

In response to Pope Francis’s call, I pledge to educate, advocate, and pray for the end of the death penalty:

Educate

I will educate myself and my community about the injustices of the death penalty, including the ways it risks innocent life, fails victims’ families, and contradicts the Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching.

Advocate

I will fulfill the call to discipleship by advocating for the dignity of all life, including those who are on death row and awaiting execution, and by actively working to end the death penalty in my state and in my country.

Pray

I will pray for mercy and healing for all who are involved in the criminal justice system: victims of crime and their families, those in prison and on death row, communities where crimes are committed, and all who work in the legislative system.

God of mercy, help me to remember your loving compassion as I go forward to work for an end to the death penalty. Allow me to be a vessel for your mercy, so as to heal the broken and welcome the outcast. Amen.

A number of prominent Catholics have made the pledge, including Fr. James Martin, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Sr. Carol Keehan, Sr. Norma Pimentel, John Carr, and 19 Catholic bishops. Here are a few reasons why people are taking the pledge:

Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida (Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development): “I have signed the Pledge. Catholics and all like-minded individuals need to sign it; it is a pledge that will go about urging people to educate, advocate, and pray for an end to capital punishment. This pledge will provide an encouragement to parish priests to begin to talk more about the death penalty, not just saying the same thing every time, but to really bring it into the discussion.  It is a matter of life, so they need to be talking about it.”

Sr. Helen Prejean: “No government is ever innocent enough or wise enough or just enough to lay claim to so absolute a power as death.”

Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ: “Homeboy Industries stands against the death penalty and always for the principle that every human being is a whole lot more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.”

Helen Alvare: “The more strongly I understood the sacredness of unborn life, the more strongly I came to oppose the death penalty.”

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ: “While speaking to Congress during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis reminded us all that ‘a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’ I stand with our Holy Father in opposing the death penalty, which condemns hope and denies the possibility of change.”

Msgr. John Enzler: “The Church believes and I believe life begins at conception and ends with natural death. The death penalty allows human beings to step in where only God belongs. While individuals may deserve a life sentence, our faith and our Church want to protect life at all costs: in the womb, through our later years and on death row. I strongly support this effort and hope others will join in as well.”

You can take the pledge here.