Catholic Conference of Ohio
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Issues - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Death Penalty

At the heart of Catholic teaching on the death penalty is the belief that " Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end…” (Catechism, No. 2258).

Regarding the death penalty, the catechism of the Catholic Church states:​

“Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent”(#2267).

 

Pope Francis on the Death Penalty

 “It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor … All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty.” International Association of Criminal Law Address 10/24/2014

"Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God’s plan for man and society, and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance…”

“The death penalty is contrary to the sentiment of humanitas and to divine mercy, which must be the model for human justice. … There is discussion in some quarters about the method of killing, as if it were possible to find ways of 'getting it right'. … But there is no humane way of killing another person…”

“Dear friends, I encourage you to continue with your work, as the world needs witnesses of God's mercy and tenderness, and may the Lord Jesus grant the gift of wisdom, so that the action taken against this cruel punishment may be successful and fruitful". International Commission Against the Death Penalty Address 3/20/2015


Death Penalty Resources

Catholic Bishops of Ohio Teaching Statements on the Death Penalty



Death Penalty Education Brochure

This brochure offers:

  • Summary of Catholic teaching,
  • Prayer to end the death penalty;
  • Resources and action steps

 

Federal Judge Rejects Ohio's Execution Procedures

Judge Michael Merz delays three upcoming executions

Following a week-long hearing, Judge Merz rejected the lethal injection of a sedative called midazolam. It was used in problematic executions in Arizona and Ohio. The judge also barred the state from using drugs that paralyze inmates and stop their hearts.

Ohioans to Stop Executions

Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty

Ending the Death Penalty Urged by Ohio Bishop

Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Toledo/Cleveland, issues statement

Bishop Thomas urges all Catholics and people of good will to take the following steps:

  •  pray for the victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;
  • reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ's love and compassion;
  • learn about the Church's teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern;
  • advocate for the end of the death penalty by contacting Governor John Kasich to urge clemency for all 139 individuals on death row in the State of Ohio.

 

Catholic Conference of Ohio Urges Governor to Commute The Death Sentence of Ronald Phillip

Archbishop Schnurr writes letter on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Ohio

Archbishop Schnurr writes: "The Catholic Church believes that the death penalty is an unnecessary and systemically flawed form of punishment. We seek mercy for Mr. Phillip because we believe that spiritual conversion is possible and that all life, even that of the worst offender, has value and dignity." 

Postcard Campaign underway to urge Governor Kasich not to resume executions

Ohioans to Stop Executions coordinating a statewide postcard campaign

On January 12, 2017, executions are scheduled to resume after a three-year hiatus. 

The text of the postcard reads:

In the three years since the last Ohio execution there has been no spike in murders. Dangerous criminals are being held accountable and the public is being kept safe without more killing. You have allowed executions and you also have shown grace by extending mercy. You have the standing and compassion to lead Ohio in a direction of grace, mercy and hope by not allowing the resumption of executions.

28 executions are scheduled, starting on January 12, 2017 with Ronald Phillips. By any measure, Phillips committed a horrible crime when he killed 3-year old Sheila Marie Evans. I believe he can and should be held accountable without killing him. Please show mercy toward Mr. Phillips by changing his sentence to life in prison with no possibility of parole, a very severe and appropriate punishment. There is no need to resume executions. Thank you.

Click here to participate.

Ohio Death Penalty & Criminal Justice Legislative Issues

June 2016

Updates on Pending Legislation regarding the Death Penalty and Criminal Justice Issues

Ohio Catholic Bishops Urge Support for SB 162

Prohibiting the Execution of Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

The death penalty is not the answer to the problem of violence committed by persons with severe mental illnesses. The better policy is access to appropriate mental health care.

Ohio Bishops Issue a new Letter on the Death Penalty

The Ohio Bishops add to their previous reflections on the Church's call to end the use of the death penalty.  References are made to recent statements made by Pope Francis, and to the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy's call to follow the merciful example of God.

Click here for the full letter

Catholic Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Catholic Conference of Ohio joins with Ohioans to Stop Executions and the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty

Just punishment can occur without resorting to the death penalty. As stated by Pope Francis, “It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor.”

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