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Catholics and the Death Penalty

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Published on Oct 3, 2016

Our support to end the use of the death penalty is also rooted in our unshakeable resolve to accompany and support all victims of crime. They suffer the very painful consequences of criminal acts. With the violent loss of a loved one, a sword has pierced their heart. Their enduring anguish is not addressed by the state-sanctioned perpetuation of the culture of death. – Statement of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops

In a newly released video, Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, whose husband was murdered, cannot imagine Jesus consenting to the execution of the assailant. Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin who oversaw four executions during her tenure, says she and her staff never felt society was safer after the execution.

Rita Chairez, lost two of her brothers and other relatives, explains how her own mother taught her how to forgive. And Ron Briggs, former death penalty advocate, explains how he changed his mind and self-describes himself as a “crusader” against capital punishment.

The video – commissioned by the California Catholic Conference and the Catholic Mobilizing Network – examines Catholic teaching through the eyes of victims and those most closely impacted by the death penalty in California. Healing is central to the Catholic approach to criminal justice, but the journey can sometimes be hard. The people in this video are still on this journey but their progress has been remarkable.

Check out our other resources on ending the use of the death penalty, at www.cacatholic.org.

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