The following is a Media Release from CMSM:
February 19, 2013
For more information:
Eli McCarthy: 301-588-4030 x236
Jesus weeps…again for us not knowing the ways to peace and justice in light of Federal Attorney General Eric Holder seeking the death penalty for 20-year old Dzhokhar. As Catholic leaders of U.S. men’s religious orders, we weep with Christ for all the harm done by the bombings in Boston last year.
The harm includes death, injury, fear, trauma, distrust, loss of loved-ones, and de-humanization of others. Many were tragically involved in this harm. Dzhokhar both significantly contributed to the harm and yet also experienced harm. Dzhokar’s family members and friends are also involved in the experience of harm. Our political leadership continues to deepen the harm and wounds by advancing the use of the death penalty.
Christ calls us to love our enemies and travel the long, difficult, but humanizing and liberating road of reconciliation. Catholic leadership has called us to end the death penalty and turn towards restorative justice methods. Pope John Paul II declared:
“The New Evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life…the dignity of human life must never be taken away even in the case of someone who has done great evil…I renew the appeal for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”
The U.S. Catholic Bishops have proclaimed:
“Our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each and every human life, including the lives of those who fail to show that respect for others….We oppose capital punishment not just for what it does to those guilty of horrible crimes but for what it does to all of us as a society. Increasing reliance on the death penalty diminishes all of us and is a sign of growing disrespect for human life… The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.”
Whereas restorative justice methods provide ways to authentic accountability, better care for the victims and meeting of all parties’ human needs, the cultivation of deeper understanding and empathy for all harm, the lowering of recidivism rates, and communities with more sustainable commitments to human dignity.
Our human partners across the world are increasingly turning away from the death penalty as a practice that violates human rights. In 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted a moratorium on the death penalty as a step toward global abolition. The U.S. remains one of the very few developed countries to use the death penalty, which speaks to a serious cultural deficiency. Considerable statistical evidence shows that the death penalty does not deter crime.
As Christians, we invite all people to acknowledge our sins and to become better people by responding to conflict with both truth-seeking and assertive love. The truth is that the death penalty fails to humanize our lives, while restorative justice offers a much more effective path to humanization and dignity. The love is about increasingly becoming people of empathy, compassion and the courage to transcend our destructive habits.
Our prayers are with all those who were harmed as we seek healing and grace.Pope John Paul II, January 27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri. US Catholic Bishops Administrative Board, “Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty,” 1999. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/death-penalty-capital-punishment/good-friday-appeal.cfm
John Edmunds ST
Eli McCarthy PhD
CMSM Associate Director