US Catholic weeklies unite in joint editorial call to end capital punishment
March 05, 2015
Four American Catholic publications, with widely diverging editorial perspectives, have joined in a call for abolition of the death penalty in the US.
The editors of the National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and America have urged their readers “to stand with us and say, ‘Capital punishment must end.’” Their joint editorial statement appeared March 5 on the web sites of all four publications.
The editorial points to an evolution of Catholic thinking on the use of the death penalty, which reached a watershed point with the statement by Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, that the circumstances justifying execution are today “very rare, in not practically non-existent.” The statement notes that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was revised to reflect that view, and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote hopefully that “the death penalty may be permitted to disappear.” More recently Pope Francis called upon Catholics to work toward “the abolition of the death penalty.”
The US Supreme Court will hear arguments on the use of the death penalty in the Glossip v. Gross case, the editors observe. They remind readers that in several American states—including Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—executions have been postponed or discontinued. They quote Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia: “But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”
America is a weekly Jesuit magazine. The National Catholic Reporter is a weekly newspaper with a strong leftward bias, while the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor are weeklies with more moderate editorial outlooks.
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