I hope this finds you being restored this summer.
If you take the time to read through the Sunday Gospels, you will find the overwhelming message is one of restorative justice. This Sunday's parable (Mk 4:26-34) compares the growth of the kingdom to a mustard seed planted by a farmer. When it is sown in the ground it is the smallest of seeds, but grows to a large plant.
Mark's Gospel reminds us that Jesus' words were describing our own lives and community. We do not know how long it will take seeds of justice that we plant to sprout, and sometimes they sprout in the most unlikely places. Despite our failings, unresponsiveness and denial, the soul when watered by the grace of God can produce "the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."
Even those who have caused great pain can experience and be the conduit of restorative justice. As followers of Jesus we are all called to be reconcilers and work towards restoring peace and healing.
In this June 2012 e-newsletter you will find:
CMN news: new staff, volunteer opportunities and resources; register now for july conference in maryland
CMN Expands Efforts in State and National Catholic Organizations
Catherine Jarboe has joined the CMN staff as Director for Catholic State Networks and Organizations. She'll work within states that have imminent legislative action, or where Catholics have expressed an interest in this important pro-life issue.
At CMN, it is our hope to set up or expand a network of concerned Catholics in every state, and to build relationships with other national Catholic organizations and vowed religious, in order to further our mutual goals. Cathy stands ready to work with state Catholic conferences, diocesan offices, parishes, ecumenical groups, and secular organizations - such as NCADP, EJUSA and others - to advance our vision of repeal together. Cathy and Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi, who joined our staff last fall, also will expand our CMN outreach and education to the growing Spanish-speaking communities in many states. You can reach Cathy by email or by phone at (502) 727-8677. Sr. Ilaria can be reached by email or at (410) 323-1469. (Have you checked our website lately? A growing number of our materials are now in Spanish!)
Cathy joins us after two years directing policy and programs at the National Council of Catholic Women, where she managed educational, legislative and coalition work centered on NCCW’s Campaign for Human Dignity, which included repeal of the use of the death penalty. Before her work at NCCW, Cathy directed public relations efforts at non-profit organizations serving people with disabilities. After receiving her master’s degree in education from Bellarmine University, Cathy taught in Catholic schools in Kentucky and North Carolina.
Cathy and Sr. Ilaria are both glad to assist with educational workshops at your pro-life meetings/conferences or other educational opportunities. And keep in mind that CMN can also help you with your speaking needs. The CMN speakers' bureau continues to feature the likes of death row minister and author Dale Recinella, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights Board Chair Vicki Schieber, Fr. Pat Delahanty, executive director of Kentucky Catholic Conference and head of Kentuckian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and, of course, Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ. Please keep Cathy and Sr. Ilaria in mind when you hear of important opportunities for exhibiting or speaking in your state.
CMN Seeks State Coordinators
CMN hopes to develop a national network of CMN State Catholic Coordinators, who will act as point people helping CMN facilitate its national mission. In each state, CMN seeks a coordinator interested in advocacy and education who will help us identify key contacts and facilitate communication and educational opportunities, and encourage action when needed. (Although the position is unpaid, CMN has a fund to repay expenses for those who take on this official role.) Perhaps you know of an interested Catholic who could make CMN an "official" part of their work. Should you know of anyone interested, or have a recommendation, please contact Cathy.
We look to you to advise us on our best opportunities for outreach in your state and we hope you will contact Cathy when opportunities to exhibit our materials become available.
In this book, Kirk Blackard tells the story of how victims of serious crimes are participating in a peace process and reconciliation with Texas prison inmates who committed similar crimes against others. To date, over 10,000 prisoners have taken part in this process and have a less than a 1.7% recidivism rate. Restoring Peace will teach you how to use this successful peace building process with those you have hurt or have hurt you. Learn more.
En esto libro, Kirk Blackard cuenta la historia de cómo las víctimas de delitos graves están participando en un proceso de paz y la reconciliación con los presos de Texas que cometieron delitos similares contra otros. Restauración de la Paz le enseñará cómo utilizar este proceso de consolidación de la paz exitoso con los que ha herido o te han herido. Más información.
Prayer Cards in Spanish
The USCCB and CMN Prayers to End the Death Penalty have been translated into Spanish and will be available for download soon. (Las tarjetas de oración para poner fin al uso de la pena de muerte, preparadas por USCCB y CMN, serán disponibles muy pronto.)
Clic aquí para ver la tarjeta de oración del CMN.
Clic aquí para ver la tarjeta de oración de USCCB.
Catholics and the Death Penalty Event
"Catholics and the Death Penalty": Join CMN and co-sponsor Mount Saint Mary's University for a two-day conference July 27-28.
Register | View the event flyer
KANSAS CATHOLICS: AN ONGOING WITNESS FOR LIFE
By Donna Schneweis, Kansas Coalition Against the Death PenaltyIt's the joining of voices from the Catholic community that can make the difference. When one surveys the work against the death penalty in Kansas the past 35 years, time and again Catholics are found actively involved.
Catholic legislators, attorneys, Sisters, laity, academics, murder victim family members, priests and bishops have stood up in defense of life. Their witness has included innumerable communications to public policy makers, public education events, letters to the editor, homilies, prayer services, testimony, research and attendance at hearings to name a few. It is a rich tapestry of names and activities that span the decades. In this article, I want to highlight a few recent examples of Catholic witness.
Senator Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick), has given strong leadership in the effort to end the death penalty. During the 2010 Senate debate, she noted Catholic teaching that every person is a precious child of God. Challenging those pro-life persons who oppose abortion but support the death penalty, she asked her colleagues, "Tell me, at what point did they lose that status and who made that decision?”
Another Kansas Catholic witness is Bob Hessman of Dodge City. Bob and his late wife Ruth, lost their daughter, Mary Rains, to homicide in 1989. He has shared his story many times, including in an article in the Southwestern Kansas Register for Respect Life month in October 2011 .
Holy Savior Parish of Wichita has had a rich mix of activities with more to come. They are an example of how a parish can really lead in education and action. Read about their activities in this newsletter
The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty has a faith leader letter that urges Kansas government officials to abolish the death penalty. Among its signers are 152 Catholic priests, sisters and lay leaders. There are signers from each Kansas diocese.
The Diocese of Wichita Respect Life and Social Justice column on March 1, 2012, focused on Lent and the Death Penalty.
On March 15, the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee held an informational hearing on the death penalty. The Kansas Catholic Conference Executive Director testified in support of abolition on behalf of the Kansas bishops.
Catholic action for abolition is vital in the coming weeks and months. Every Kansas Senator and Representative seat is up for election this year. It is a prime opportunity for one-to-one conversations with candidates sharing why individual Kansas Catholics support ending the death penalty. Given the likely number of new legislators due to redistricting, these conversations are even more critical than in past years.
Respect Life month is coming up. We urge your parish to hold an educational program on the death penalty. The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty stands ready to link you with speakers, discussion-starters, stimulating videos and more. Contact me by email and I’ll help get you the materials or speakers you need!
Finally, I extend an invitation to Kansans reading this to join the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty so you can be up to date on the latest news and the latest actions needed to advance the cause of abolition in Kansas. And, if you live outside Kansas, urge your friends and relatives in Kansas to be active and join KCADP!
The Catholic community can make the difference.
Thank You for Assisting in Our Collective Atonement
By Mary Novak, J.D., M.A.P.S
Deep gratitude only begins to convey my feelings for all who worked to get on the November ballot the SAFE California initiative (The "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act").
Based on what we have learned over the years, the time is now for the SAFE California initiative to pass and for us to say "no" to the death penalty; and, the time is now for us to be more fully human in how we engage some of the most challenging and ugliest sides of our shared humanity.
Soon after joining a San Francisco law firm as a first year associate almost 25 years ago, I volunteered to work on a death penalty case the firm had taken years prior pro bono for the capital appeal process. At the time, I was not a practicing Catholic, but my clarity about the death penalty was so deeply rooted in my faith life that it compelled my action despite my separation from the Church. As a member of the team, I joined the attorneys in investigating the case and preparing the claims for the federal habeas corpus filing as we waited for the California Supreme Court’s ruling on direct appeal. When the ruling came back affirming the conviction and death sentence in the midst of our investigation - and the trial court set the execution date soon after - the gravity of what we had all said "yes" to deepened. We individually and collectively struggled with what we thought was our clarity on the death penalty while at the same time pulling many all-nighters to make the habeas filing to begin the long trek through the federal system. After almost two decades in both state or federal court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court resulting in a retrial of the case.
Those years with that case, which included numerous trips to San Quentin, taught me much about the death penalty: the cases are prohibitively expensive to litigate; housing death row inmates is significantly more expensive than general prison housing; it does not deter crime; it is imposed at times on the innocent; and, race, economics and geography are too often the determining factor in who ends up on death row. All of this and more was confirmed in 2008 in the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice Report and Recommendations on the Administration of the Death Penalty in California.
More compelling for me today is the human side, the side our team experienced constantly as we were plunged into the sheer tragedies on all sides of the case, which for us even included the jurors. What we knew intuitively then as we interviewed witness after witness, year after year, was that this legal process would not lead to healing no matter the result at the case’s end. What I have since learned through my continual study of the death penalty as well as my restorative justice and chaplaincy work, is that our litigation process most likely resulted in further trauma to those involved as well as their families. In other words, the death penalty justice process did not invite or engender healing; rather, it may have caused further harm. Victims' families have increasingly confirmed this in the intervening years.
For all the pragmatic and systemic reasons set out in the Commission Report, it is time to pass the SAFE California initiative; we know better now and it simply makes good sense to act on that knowledge base. With its passage, I pray that the work will continue with engaging more deeply in restorative justice, the best practices of which are becoming increasingly well established even in the most heinous of crimes.
The SAFE California initiative is such an important step. Thank you to all who have come together to create the conditions to make this happen; your work on all of our behalf helps us to collectively atone for the harm we have done along the way in the interest of justice.
Mary Novak has been a conflict worker for 25 years; she has served as an attorney, educator, organizer, peacebuilder, spiritual director and chaplain. She returned earlier this year from Kenya where she was researching and writing her final master’s project for the Washington Theological Union on Catholic peacebuilding. Mary currently works for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and in July, she will also serve as a Chaplain-in-Residence at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
religious Sisters Communities Endorse SAFE California Ballot Initiative
More than 15 communities of religious sisters from across the state have signed on in support of the SAFE California Initiative which seeks to end the death penalty in the state. Accompanied with their support for the ballot effort is a more complete statement on their principled rejection of the death penalty overall as contrary to Catholic teaching about the dignity of the human person.
To read more about the statement and download a printable English or Spanish version, click here.
Play Project Update: Looking Toward Season Nine
By Greg Callaghan, National Coordinator, Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project The Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project is gearing up for an exciting 9th season. In the 2012-2013 academic year, students will explore the death penalty on and off stage at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont; George Washington High School in San Francisco, California; Burlington High School in Rochester, New York; and through a joint production at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino and Louisville High School in Woodland Hills, California; to name a few. These schools (and more!) will join the 220 schools around the country that have participated in the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project since its launch in the fall of 2004. If you know of a high school or college in your community that may be interested in participating in the project, please contact me at (415) 469-9149 or by email.
July 27-28: "Catholics and the Death Penalty," a two-day conference sponsored by Mount Saint Mary's University and CMN, will held this summer. It will include powerful stories from murder victims' family members, a wrongly accused death row inmate and death row ministers; presentations on Catholic teaching regarding the death penalty, and provide participants with a better understanding and deeper commitment to repeal. CMN speakers Vicki Schieber, Dale & Susan Recinella and Executive Director Karen Clifton are just some of the speakers presenting at this conference to be held on the Mount Saint Mary's University campus in Emmitsburg, Md. Registration options are for the whole conference or one day, and housing on campus is available. For more information and to register online or by phone, click here.
August 3-5: CMN will host an exhibit table at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference at the Century II Convention Center. CMN will join other respect life groups, including the Diocese of Wichita and Catholic Charities, in educating and engaging the more than 2,000 Catholics that are expected to attend. For more information on the event, visit the Catholic Family Conference website.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out a full list of CMN Events.
Montana: People of Faith Against the Death Penalty encourages religious leaders and men and women of faith to take a moment to add their moral authority to a letter calling on Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to grant clemency to Ronald Smith. Mr. Smith is a Canadian man who has been on death row in Montana for nearly 30 years for his role in the murders of Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit Jr. Read more and consider signing the statement as a religious leader or as a person of faith.
Maryland: Journey of Hope and other Maryland-based and international groups are sponsoring a presentation by Bill Pelke, family member of a murder victim and internationally known author and speaker and Thomas Ruffin Jr., the lawyer for Troy Davis, who was executed in Georgia in 2011 even though some evidence suggested he was innocent of the murder of which he was accused and convicted. Ruffin is also a legal counsel and lobbyist for the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Progressive Change. The presentation is free and open to the public and will take place on June 26 at 7 p.m. at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, 310 Tulip Ave., Takoma Park. For more information please email the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Progressive Change.
Virginia: Journey of Hope is a group founded by murder victims' family members who came to oppose the death penalty. It now includes death row exonerees and others with personal experience of the capital punishment system. They travel around the country and around the world sharing their stories and promoting the thoughtful discussion that may bring the death penalty to an end. The Journey is coming to the Northern Virginia area for three nights of presentations: June 25 in Reston, June 26 in Vienna, and June 29 in Arlington. A panel discussion with ample time for audience feedback and dialogue will be offered. For more information on each event, click the link associated with each day above.
Washington, D.C.: From June 28 to July 2, the Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC) is holding its annual "Starvin' for Justice" fast and vigil to abolish the death penalty, taking place at the U.S. Supreme Court. For more information, visit the AAC website. You may also read a reflection about an experience at a previous year's fast from a Southern Methodist University student, Lauren Olsen.
For more events, news and resources, visit the By State section on the CMN website.