SACRAMENTO, Calif.--()--California’s Catholic Bishops issued a public statement today strongly supporting Proposition 34, an initiative that would replace the state’s death penalty with the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Bishops representing all 12 of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses were unanimous in their support.
“As teachers and pastors, we consistently proclaim the intrinsic worth and the God-given dignity of all human life, whether innocent or guilty”
“We appeal to Californians to end a failed system of justice and choose life. Violence does not end violence. Killing in the name of the state will not end killing. The death penalty will not give us justice worthy of a good society,” said the Bishops.
A copy of the statement in English and Spanish is available at www.cacatholic.org.
California originally instituted the death penalty for capital crimes in 1872. It remained the practice for 100 years, until the California Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1972. Since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1978, it has been carried out sporadically — 13 convicted criminals have been executed, while 84 others have died of old age.
In 2005, the U.S. Catholic Bishops, in their statement,” A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death,” outlined the Bishops’ public policy objections to the use of capital punishment:
- The original intent of the death penalty was the protection of society from those who had killed a fellow human being. However, in modern times the state can incarcerate those convicted of a capital crime for the rest of their lives — with no chance they will ever rejoin society.
- The application of the penalty of death can be irreversibly wrong — as has been demonstrated by many condemned individuals who were later exonerated with DNA testing.
“As teachers and pastors, we consistently proclaim the intrinsic worth and the God-given dignity of all human life, whether innocent or guilty,” said the Bishops. “As ministers to the victims of crime, we feel their profound anguish and offer them our prayers and the hope of a fuller sense of justice.
“Nothing can undo the terrifying memories of violence that have been inflicted, not even taking the life of the convicted killer,” continued the Bishops, “But a better solution has to be found, one that punishes those persons guilty of committing crimes, but one that also promotes healing and restoration, while providing the opportunity for repentance and reconciliation.”
The California Catholic Conference is the public advocacy office of the Bishops of California. Representing the Archbishops of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Bishops of Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Stockton. It is the official voice of the 11 million Catholics and their many parishes, schools, universities, healthcare and social service agencies in California.