Catholic Conference of Ohio
Saturday, February 24, 2018

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

 

Gary Otte Scheduled for Execution on September 13, 2017

Gary W. Otte is scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.  Forty-five-year-old Gary is convicted of the murder of 61-year-old Robert Wasilkowski on February 12, 1992, and for the murder of 45-year-old Sharon Kostura on February 21, 1992, both in Parma, Ohio.  Gary has spent the last 24 years of his life on Ohio’s death row.

We offer our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura. We pray for Mr. Otte and his family and friends.  We pray for governor Kasich and all who must participate in our state executions.  We look forward to the day when the death penalty is only remembered as part of Ohio’s history.

Letter to Governor Kasich asking for clemency

Harvard Study Finds Most Ohio Death Row Inmates Have Serious Impairments

Ohio Public Radio Reports on this Study

Of the 26 Ohio men set to be executed in the next three years, a review by Harvard Law’s Fair Punishment Project shows almost two thirds suffered serious childhood trauma. Nearly a quarter are likely severely mentally ill and 42% have other impairments such as brain injuries.

Ronald Phillips Executed in Ohio

Declared dead at 10:43 AM on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

After a three-year break, Ohio resumed executions by giving a lethal injection to Ronald Phillips. Mr. Phillips became the 54th person executed in Ohio since executions resumed in 1999.

The Catholic Church believes that the death penalty is an unnecessary and systemically flawed form of punishment. The Catholic Bishops of Ohio sought mercy for Mr. Phillips because of the belief that spiritual conversion is possible and that all life – even that of the worst offender – has value and dignity. 

May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Statement by Sister Helen Prejean

Take the National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty

Catholic Mobilizing Network encourages signers to educate, advocate, and pray for the end of the death penalty

"All Christians and people of good will are called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom” - Pope Francis

The belief in the dignity of the human person is a pillar of our Catholic faith. The death penalty represents a failure of our society to fulfill the demands of human dignity.

 

Ohio Catholic Bishops Urge Support for HB 81 & SB 40

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.

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.

 

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.”

RSS

Prayer for an End to Human Trafficking

Oh God, we didn't see them.

But you did-

The hundreds and thousands of human beings trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped in modern-day slavery.

Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plow fields, harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and haul water.

Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs and small shoulders for bearing rifles.

Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden from those who don't really want to see them.

But you see them all, God of the poor.

You hear their cry and you answer by opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts and loosening our tongues to insist:

No mas. No more.

Amen