by Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Coordinator
When Pope Francis addressed Congress on his visit to the United States in 2015 he called for an end to the death penalty. In a video message supporting the sixth World Congress against capital punishment, which was held in Oslo, Norway in June 21-23, 2016, Pope Francis said that the practice brings no justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance.
“Indeed, nowadays, the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person,” Pope Francis said in the message released June 21. “It is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice,” the pope said.
Today in California there is a Proposition on this November’s ballot that if passed will repeal the death penalty. This is Proposition 62. There’s also a Proposition on the ballot that would expedite the executions of those men and woman on death row. This is Proposition 66. The California Catholic Conference of Bishops issued the following statement, endorsing Proposition 62, and opposing Proposition 66:
“During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we, the Catholic Bishops of California support proposition 62, which would end the use of the death penalty in California. Our commitment to halt the practice of capital punishment is rooted both in the Catholic faith and our pastoral experience.
All life is sacred — innocent or flawed — just as Jesus Christ taught us and demonstrated repeatedly throughout his ministry. This focus on the preciousness of human life is fundamental to Christianity and most eloquent expressed in the two great commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:30-31) “
As a Precious Blood family we have taken a public corporate stance in opposition of the death penalty. We urge the Precious Blood Members and Companions in California to vote “yes” on proposition 62 and “no” on Proposition 66. For those of us not in California, I urge you to be in solidarity with our California Members and Companions in prayer as they work to end the death penalty.