The organization Catholics Against Capital Punishment recently noted activities related to the Catholic Church’s official position on the death penalty. For the first time in recent years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’s annual Respect Life program is urging its participants to make opposition to the death penalty a significant part of carrying out the Church’s pro-life teachings. The statement is based on the 1980 Statement on Capital Punishment of the U.S. Bishops in which they voiced their opposition to the death penalty and affirmed the Catholic Church’s belief in the sanctity of all human life.

In New Hampshire, Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian of the Diocese of Manchester (including New Hampshire), submitted testimony to the state’s Commission to Study the Death Penalty, stating, “I suggest that the death penalty is the last frontier of this historical movement that strongly accents the intrinsic value of every human person. At least for the past four centuries, humanity has lifted women, slaves and civilians trapped in war zones from the class of ‘human objects’ to the protected status of human beings who enjoy the inviolable right to life. This same right to life must now be extended to men and women convicted of capital crimes.”

Earlier in August, the 1.7-million-member Knights of Columbus, a men’s fraternal organization with associations to the Church, passed a resolution stating that they will “continue to uphold the traditional teaching of the [Catholic] Church concerning the death penalty as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by the late Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae.”

(“News Notes,” Catholics Against Capital Punishment, August 16, 2010). Read more about Religion and the Death Penalty. DPIC has packets of materials that may be useful to communities of faith in discussing the death penalty. For more information, contact Elaine de Leon.