This month CMN is proud to present an updated One-Act Play of Dead Man Walking written by Joshua Goode. The Sanctity of All Life, a JustFaith Module, is also now available through JustFaith Ministries (more details below). These are two great springboards for discussion for Youth Ministers as well as Social Justice and Religious Education Ministers. Sr. Kathie Uhler also has homily ideas for the remainder of this year for those who preach.
The readings of this month have spoken of all of the many types of prophets in the scriptures. It is uncomfortable to think of speaking prophetically. We are asking you to teach prophetically through your actions, your ministry and your curricula for events in the upcoming year. Be a voice for all life.
Thank you for all you are doing for the voiceless and marginalized among us.
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. (Wisdom 1:13-15)
In this July 2012 e-newsletter you will find:
CMN news: new one-act play, justfaith course; homily ideas FOR PREACHERS
NEW DEAD MAN WALKING ONE-ACT PLAY AVAILABLE
We are proud to offer the new One-Act play of Dead Man Walking to church communities, who can join the growing number of people of faith who are exploring the religious, moral and ethical dimensions of capital punishment in the United States.
This new adaptation was penned by Steppenwolf Theater Company Apprentice-designate, Joshua Goode. Goode is a 2010 Georgetown University graduate currently serving in Teach for America. Most recently, his play Tree House was selected as part of the Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage festival and received a workshop production by Welders Theatre at Theatre J. We thank Joshua for his work on the script!
Young adults, religious education classes or other parish groups who care to join Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, on her journey to expand the discourse on social justice and human rights can take part in this special project.
In addition to the one-act version of Dead Man Walking, we continue to offer the full-length play to high schools and colleges across the country. If you know of a school that may be interested in joining our 9th season, please contact Greg Callaghan.
More on How to Get the One-Act Play
If you are interested in using the one-act play in your ministry, please contact the CMN office by email or at (202) 541-5290. It is the perfect springboard for conversation about the Church's teaching and the moral arguments, the practical arguments and tough questions. It can be used as a reading or as an educational artistic production.
Hay una versión en español de este recurso. Email CMN para recibir el texto de la obra gratis. (There is also a Spanish version of the one-act play. Email CMN to receive a free text of the play.)
JUSTFAITH SANCTITY OF ALL LIFE MODULE CREATED BY CMN
The Catholic Church teaches that, as a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. This concept of the worth and dignity of all human life is the core principle of Catholic social teaching. The JustFaith Ministries Sanctity of All Life module engages this teaching and offers extensive action ideas and activities for all of the life issues, including abortion, euthanasia, torture and the death penalty.
HOMILY IDEAS FOR PREACHERS
CMN's Sr. Kathie Uhler has prepared brief, bite-sized reflections drawn from the Sunday Gospels through the rest of the calendar year, which can be used to launch a homily or preaching theme – or allow a preacher to include some thoughts on the death penalty, the sanctity of all life and restorative justice concerns in any presentation.
Please click here to download the resource. If you do use one of CMN's homily ideas please email a copy of the printed text and/or the audio for possible inclusion on our website.
Hay una versión en español de este recurso. Clic aquí
para sugerencias para las homilias de pena de muerte y justicia restaurativa. (There is also a Spanish version of this resource. Click here for the Homily Suggestions in Spanish.)
the death penalty: perpetuating violence in pennsylvania
By Joelle Shea, Director of Outreach for the Pennsylvania Catholic ConferenceTwo hundred and five Pennsylvanians currently sit on death row.
In Pennsylvania, even though hundreds of people have been sentenced to death, only three people – those who waived their right to appeal – have been executed since 1978 (the year the General Assembly reinstated the death penalty). Further, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender bias found that racial, ethnic and gender bias "significantly affect the way parties, witnesses, litigants, lawyers, court employees and potential jurors are treated." Today, 201 of the 205 people on death row are male, and 137 are Asian, African-American or Hispanic.
The Pennsylvania Senate, recognizing this disparity in convicts, commissioned a bipartisan task force and advisory committee to conduct a study of the state's death penalty. Father Sean Code of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has been appointed to serve on this commission. Father Code also serves as the Moderator of the Social Concerns Department of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
The bi-partisan commission will be made up of 30 members representing various groups including "representatives of the judiciary, prosecution, defense, law enforcement, corrections, victim assistance organizations, and also representatives of academia, the faith community, private and public organizations involved in criminal justice issues and other criminal justice experts."
The commission will study several areas, including: cost, bias and unfairness, impact on and services for family members, mental retardation and illness, juries, appeals, clemency and more. The findings and recommendations of the research – undertaken in conjunction with the Justice Center for Research of Penn State University and the Joint State Government Commission – will be presented in December 2013.
Justice calls for punishment for crimes, but in America's modern penal system, there are alternatives to killing – like life imprisonment – that would break the cycle of violence created by the death penalty. The United States was the only country in the Western Hemisphere and the only G8 member country to carry out an execution in 2011.
Crimes that result in the death penalty are so horrific that they leave us outraged and vengeful. But revenge is not ours to take; the ultimate judgment on a person’s soul is God’s alone. By abolishing the death penalty, Pennsylvania can recognize that every human – no matter how unimaginable the crime they’ve committed – has inherent dignity.
Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae reiterates this teaching in The Catechism of the Catholic Church: "If non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically non-existent'" (Catechism, no. 2267; Evangelium Vitae, no. 56).
"The Lord God says, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live.'" – Ezekiel 33:11
interview: rev. bill pickard
Rev. Bill Pickard is prison chaplain in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN): Fr. Bill, in mid-June you, along with Pax Christi Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA) and others, held the 31st Annual National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry in Scranton. This annual gathering must increase a sense of solidarity among all involved in the work?
Fr. Bill: Yes, and this year we focused on implementing community justice. We’re concerned about the quality of life for everyone: the victims, offenders and the community-at-large. It’s always a time to get together with friends in the work and share about successes and challenges.
CMN: Tell us about the successes.
Fr. Bill: One of the things that a prison minister learns right away is that most of the inmates are there for drug- or alcohol-related misdemeanors. The addictions have led to mental health problems that often get exaggerated in the prison setting, especially if an inmate has acted out and is placed in solitary confinement. Well, through the Convocation, we highlighted a very positive approach that our county has taken to address this mental health issue in prisons. A Mental Health Court was established about six years ago in Lackawanna County. Judge Robert Mazzoni, who co-founded the court, gave a breakout session at the Convocation.
CMN: How does the Court work?
Fr. Bill: An offender who shows signs of mental illness is brought before the judge in the Mental Health Court. His defense is not by a lawyer but by a therapist or counselor who tries to show that the cause of the crime was through mental illness. So, instead of prison time, they can get treatment and counseling. They must appear before the judge weekly who assesses improvement. Prisoners can actually be released and sometimes, with everyone’s cooperation, their crimes can be erased. The Mental Health Court judges say that their work is satisfying and rewarding because they are dealing with the root causes of criminal activity.
Read the Full Interview on the CMN Website
california update: safe California proposition 34, interview with rev. michael carson, A feature on the catholic chaplain of san quentin
SAFE CALIFORNIA UPDATE
The SAFE California Ballot Initiative will be listed on the November 6, 2012 Election Day Ballot as Proposition 34, an initiative to Repeal the Death Penalty. If the state's voters approve it, Proposition 34 will end the death penalty in California.
Specifically, Proposition 34 will:
-Repeal the death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
-Apply retroactively to persons already sentenced to death.
-Require persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.
-Create a $100 million fund to be distributed to law enforcement agencies to help solve more homicide and rape cases.
To read more about Proposition 34, visit the SAFE California website.
INTERVIEW: REV. MICHAEL CARSON
Rev. Michael Carson is Pastor of Queen of Apostles Church, Diocese of San Jose and Member of the State Board of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty (CPF)
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN): What event in life gave you the passion to work to end the Death Penalty?
Fr. Mike: My involvement with the Capuchin Franciscans and American Friends in Seminary introduced me to San Quentin and prison ministry. I have been visiting people on death row for 16 years, and they keep me involved.
CMN: Could you tell us how California People of Faith (CPF) came to be?
Fr. Mike: CPF works very closely with Death Penalty Focus. Fourteen years ago different faith leaders felt we needed an organization especially devoted to the religious community on this issue. We minister through prayer, advocacy and direct contact.
CMN: What actions are you presently working on?
Fr. Mike: We are hosting our first House Party for the SAFE Initiative. We had Bishop Salvatore Cordileone come to speak in our parish. His talk on the Marriage of Abortion and the Death Penalty was a strong message to Catholics. Both issues joined together strengthen the other. Divided they weaken each cause.
Read the Full Interview on the CMN Website
THEOLOGY BEHIND BARS/AMERICA MAGAZINE
A full-length story from America Magazine about Fr. George Williams, S.J. and the work he is doing educating inmates as Catholic Chaplain of San Quentin. Read the article here.
August 1-4: CMN will have a presence at the annual gathering of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) in Houston, Texas. CMSM serves the leadership of the Catholic orders and congregations of the more than 17,000 vowed religious priests and brothers of the United States, 10 percent of whom are foreign missionaries. CMSM provides a voice for these communities in U.S. church and society. CMSM also collaborates with the U.S. bishops and other key groups and organizations that serve church and society.
August 3-4: CMN will be participating in "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Symposium on Crime, Punishment and the Common Good in California." It is sponsored by the California Catholic Conference, and co-sponsored and hosted by Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School, seeks to raise awareness of restorative justice as a better system of justice for victims, offenders and communities. This statewide conference held on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles will convene those affected by the criminal justice system, from victims, to offenders, to criminal justice professionals, to Church and public leaders from various faith perspectives. For more information 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.
August 6-8: CMN will have a presence at the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministries Conference in Chicago. The NCADDHM in communion with the bishops of the U.S., supports, provides resources, and assists in the ongoing professional development of Hispanic Ministry diocesan staff, in order to facilitate full participation of Hispanics in the mission of the Church and society.
August 7-11: CMN will have a presence at the annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in Saint Louis, Mo. The LCWR is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has more than 1,500 members, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, the conference assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.
For more information about the assembly, visit the LCWR website.
August 24-26: Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (Miami, Florida)
CMN will have a presence at the annual conference of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) in Miami, Florida. CALL’s mission is to work within the context of our culture and in communion with our bishops to promote the common good of Latinos in the United States. They serve as a national voice for Hispanics on social justice issues and to impact the national dialogue and its outcome in favor of improving our nation’s policies affecting Latinos.
For more information on the conference, visit the CALL website.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out a full list of CMN Events.