We, the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Therefore, we believe that the death penalty should be abolished because it is contrary to our Catholic faith. We urge immediate commutation of all death sentences and passage of legislation to repeal all statutes authorizing capital punishment at the state and federal levels. We pledge our support to efforts to abolish the death penalty.
Today we begin voting for our corporate stance for abolishing the death penalty. There are many good reasons for eliminating the death penalty:
- There are excessive costs for capital cases compared to non-capital cases.
- It does not deter violence
- Innocent people have/can be executed
- The extraordinary amount of time it takes does not provide closure to victim’s families
- Society can be protected from dangerous criminals without killing them
- It discriminates against people in poverty and of color
- Current methods of execution can be considered cruel and unusual punishment
- Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to state that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
- Most importantly, it goes against our belief in the value of life from conception to natural death.
The abolition of the death penalty is not a new concept to us. Several founding congregations had corporate stances prior to our becoming the Dominican Sisters of Peace. In fact, as early as 1988, the Kentucky founding congregation took up this issue stating “We strongly oppose the death penalty.” Perhaps their many years as early as the 1850’s of working with prisoners helped them to see each prisoner as a human being deserving a chance to live and to transform his/her life.
If we pass this corporate stance, we will begin praying more intentionally for those individuals being executed, for their families, and for the families of their victims. We will work in our states to encourage laws that abolish the death penalty and/or for moratoriums on the death penalty. And, we will continue to work with individuals in jails and prisons.
I hope you will vote to abolish this “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”