AUSCP Position: End the Death Penalty

Members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests add their voice to the voice of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who have long opposed the use of the death penalty, and clearly stated their opposition in November 2005.

NEW: Posted August 21, 2019: Sister Helen Prejean’s new book: Getting rid of the death penalty, getting Jesus right

NEW: Posted August 14, 2019: Rabbi writes to AG Barr: Don’t bring death penalty to Pittsburgh

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NEW: Posted June 1, 2019 from NPR: New Hampshire becomes 21st state to abolish death penalty • More from The Guardian: Lawmakers override the governor

NEW: Posted April 21, 2019: Preaching on the Death Penalty




AUSCP Action: Letters are sent to state governors when executions are scheduled

On every known occasion, when an execution is scheduled in any of the United States, a letter to the governor of that state is sent from the AUSCP office on behalf of the association and its members, asking the governor to commute the sentence to a lesser punishment such as life-without-parole.

The AUSCP encourages members to add their voices

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Members and friends of the AUSCP are encouraged to contact their governor and legislators to end the usage of the death penalty.

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" . . . just a few prosecutors in certain counties . . . account for a disproportionate number of death penalty convictions. In Oklahoma, it’s one prosecutor who’s responsible for fifty-four death-penalty cases. You have a cultural phenomenon, especially in the south, where politicians are rewarded for being “tough on crime.” Ten states that were part of the Confederacy and practiced slavery are responsible for most executions."  -- Sister. Helen Prejean

READ the full story: CLICK HERE

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"Bishops, nuns, religious order priests and Catholic social justice crusaders will rally behind the pope’s words and seek to ban executions in the one developed country that still permits them. But will parish priests and pastors act on the issue?" -- William K. Reilly, in America.

READ the full article: CLICK HERE

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LINK:  National Death Penalty Focus

LINK: Catholic Mobilizing Network to learn about planned executions and opposition efforts

LINK: USCCB Chairmen: End the Use of the Death Penalty (July 16, 2015)

LINK: Ohioans to Stop Executions to see what others have done to make a difference

LINK: Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty

ENLACE: Compromiso nacional católico para abolir la pena de muerte

LINK: Youtube video shows Jesuit prison ministry providing "a first chance" for some who have killed (Video preceded by commercial)

Basis for the AUSCP Position

Opposing the use of the death penalty is a matter of conscience for AUSCP members, with a position approved at an AUSCP Assembly. It is also based on the clear and unequivocal statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who have long opposed the use of the death penalty, and stated their opposition in November 2005. 

• “This is a time to teach clearly, encourage reflection, and call for common action in the Catholic community to bring about an end to the use of the death penalty in our land.

 “ . . . We [bishops] reaffirm our common judgment that the use of the death penalty is unnecessary and unjustified in our time and circumstances. Our nation should forgo the use of the death penalty because:

-- The sanction of death, when it is not necessary to protect society, violates respect for human life and dignity.
-- State-sanctioned killing in our names diminishes all of us.
-- Its application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed.
-- We have other ways to punish criminals and protect society.

“ . . . We [bishops] renew our common conviction that it is time for our nation to abandon the illusion that we can protect life by taking life. Ending the use of the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death toward building a culture of life."

We, the members and friends of the AUSCP, add our voices, collectively and individually, in our common calling: End the death penalty. Build a culture of life.

Sample Letters

To Governor John Kasich

" . . . . Together we ask that you not authorize the execution of inmate Robert Van Hook on July 18th, 2018. We ask rather that you commute the sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole." CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER TO GOVERNOR KASICH

To Bishop Frederick Campbell

"We thank you for the statements of the USCCB which clearly state the opposition of the Church to the death penalty. We fully support your stand against the death penalty and appreciate the articulation of it to the public.

"Enclosed is a copy of a letter we sent to Governor John Kasich  . . . in which we articulated our reasons for calling to commute the sentence of Robert Van Hook, scheduled for execution on July 18th, to a life sentence without parole." CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER TO BISHOP CAMPBELL

Catholic Teaching on the Death Penalty and Capital Punishment