Voices of Faith: What is your faith’s view of capital punishment?


Graveyard & Deathoriginally published by: The Modesto Bee
14th April 2010

The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church: Catholic teaching has consistently acknowledged the right of the state to both take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime and take appropriate action to protect its citizens from grave harm.

However, the question for today is whether capital punishment is justifiable under present circumstances. In recent years, our leaders have answered that question in the negative.

The American bishops since 1974 have declared their opposition to the death penalty. They cite the fact that empirical studies have not shown that it is a successful deterrent to others from committing similar crimes and, therefore, it is not an effective protection for society.

They have written that abolishing the death penalty would send a message that the cycle of violence can be broken, and we do not have to take a life for a life; that each person created in the image of God has inestimable dignity regardless of his or her actions; that God alone is the giver and taker of life; and that we can and should imitate the example of Jesus, who taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice.

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