I hope this finds you well after the past eventful week.
Maryland will be the sixth state in six years to abandon the use of the death penalty. The state's Senate and House passed the bill and it only awaits the promised signature of Governor Martin O’Malley. The clear voices of those affected by violence and unjust systems were heard. CMN applauds all of the many people who worked tirelessly for years to see this day come to pass, our own Vicki Schieber being one of them. (In the picture to the right, Vicki celebrates with Gov. O'Malley at a press conference following the bill's passage.)
CMN continues to focus on key states where repeal efforts are legislatively progressing or where Catholics are lifting up the pro-life message of the Church and the restorative message of the Gospels.
With the Lord there is mercy and the fullness of redemption, call to him in your trials, he will answer whenever you call.
- Psalm 130
“The right to life means allowing people to live and not killing, allowing them to grow, to eat, to be educated, to be healed, and to be permitted to die with dignity.”
- Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis
May each of you have a blessed Holy Week and a joyful celebration of the new life of Easter!
In this March 2013 newsletter you will find:
By Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director, Colorado Catholic Conference
This year, the Colorado Legislature will have the opportunity to debate a piece of legislation that would abolish the death penalty. The Colorado Catholic Conference believes in respect for the sanctity of all human life and therefore opposes the use of capital punishment in our state. The Church’s assessment of capital punishment is not an avoidance of justice; the Church grieves for the victims of murder and the horrific suffering of their families.
This week, Archbishop Samual Aquila wrote about our fervent opposition to the death penalty.
By Conor Boyle, Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
The Centennial State is poised to follow Maryland as an abolition state. Recent years have been turbulent for Coloradans due to multiple homicides, an upcoming execution, and high-profile exonerations. The multifaceted consequences of the death penalty are manifested through the many stories heard by those most affected by the death penalty.
These stories that shed light on the failures of capital punishment will be heard before the state assembly on March 19. The stories of Tim Masters and Robert Dewey, two recently exonerated men that were wrongfully convicted in Colorado, will be heard before the legislature. They were facing life sentences but were released after discovery of their innocence. This failure casts doubts on a system that seems to function well, but which robbed them of decades of their lives for crimes they did not commit. Both are now speaking out against the death penalty because they would not be alive today if they were convicted of capital crimes.
Their stories are joined by the growing number of law enforcement personnel and researchers that continue to grow uneasy with this broken system. Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnet reflected on the findings of a recent study: “What is the point of a penalty that is only sought in a tiny percentage of the cases where it could be sought, or where geography is a factor in whether it is sought? Obviously, the risk of race or other subjective factors being considered (or appearing to be considered) in selecting who is put to death is significant.”
Legislators are convinced that the time to act to end the death penalty is now, and they are working to introduce a bill in the Colorado Senate this spring.
Colorado Residents: CMN has created key Catholic teaching and legislative talking points for your state, available in English and Spanish. After reviewing these, take action on pending death penalty legislation via CADPF's website.
"Tweens" Curriculum: "Forgive ... and Forget?"
Middle school youth - or "Tweens" as they are often referred to - find themselves at an age where they struggle to understand the teachings of the Church on a deeper, more spiritual level. While always desiring forgiveness themselves for their transgressions, finding it in their heart to forgive others when they have been hurt is a greater challenge. In the session "Forgive ... and Forget?" we explore this challenge in the lives of young people. Through prayer and Scripture (Matthew 18:21-35, “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant”), small and large group discussion participants will be guided through the Catholic Church’s teaching on capital punishment through the lens of forgiveness.
Download the "Tweens" Curriculum.
High School Curriculum: "Justice-Mercy-Grace"
In a world where information moves at the speed of lightning, today's teens expect quick, easy answers. The desire for solutions to be "black and white" are upended by the many levels of "gray areas" we enter into. Teens are challenged by the Church's teachings on issues such as marriage, abortion and human rights. In this session, teens are led through a process to help them understand the differences between justice, mercy and grace - and how these concepts are ones that require considerable thought and attention. Shared through the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16), teens will pray, discuss and learn how capital punishment interferes with God's gift of grace.
Download the High School Curriculum.
CMN is proud to sponsor I Want To Serve, a coalition of concerned citizens who oppose the silencing of people of faith on capital juries. I Want To Serve seeks to put an end to the artificial restriction of people who oppose the death penalty which prevents them from serving on these juries.
I Want To Serve is one example of the way CMN is developing resources and new outreach in the areas of restorative justice. There will be much more on these efforts in next month's newsletter.
As Lent moves toward Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Triduum, we encourage friends and supporters to make use of the following CMN resources to raise awareness of Catholic teaching on the death penalty in parishes, faith-sharing groups, and for individual prayer:
- Our Good Friday Reflection to End the Use of the Death Penalty, available in English and Spanish
- Preaching inspiration with short reflections inspired by Catholic teaching and the death penalty
- Prayer cards with the USCCB Prayer to End the Death Penalty (Note: These prayer cards and other CMN publications can also be ordered for larger groups here.)
- The new book "Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty" co-edited by CMN's Vicki Schieber
If you find any of these resources helpful, we invite you to consider a donation to CMN to help us create and share more resources like these.
Stations of the Cross by Catholic Schools for Peace and Justice
This Stations of the Cross reflects on the traditional last steps in the life of Jesus in relation to Catholic teaching on the death penalty. Catholic Schools for Peace and Justice is an organization made of representatives from Catholic high schools and colleges in the Diocese of Cleveland. As colleagues in Catholic education, the school representatives meet at least twice per semester along with student representatives to share ideas, plan the events sponsored by the group, and invite each others’ schools to participate in other valuable opportunities in the community. There is a long tradition within these academic institutions of educating and taking action for social justice as guided by the principles of Catholic social teaching.
Read more | En español
This resource is made available by permission of Education for Justice.
By Greg Callaghan, Dead Man Walking Play Project Coordinator
March brings three productions of Dead Man Walking to the stage: Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, Calif., and St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., both run March 14-17; Trinity Valley High School in Fort Worth, Texas, runs March 21-24.
We are currently booking schools to participate in the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project for the 2013-2014 school year. If you know of a high school or college in your community that may be interested in participating in the project, please contact me by e-mail or by phone at (415) 469-9149.
March 21: CMN will be presenting on Catholic teaching and the death penalty at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.
March 22: CMN speaker Dale Recinella will be presenting about his work and ministry on Florida's death row to students and faculty at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla.
April 2-4: CMN staff will be presenting and exhibiting at the National Catholic Educational Association Conference in Houston, Texas. Read more.
April 5-7: Sr. Illaria Buonriposi from CMN will be present at the Southern Regional Catholic Charismatic Conference in New Orleans, La. Read more.
April 5-8: CMN will be exhibiting at Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice's Annual Gathering in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s event is “At God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World.” Read more.
April 9-12: CMN Executive Director Karen Clifton will be present at the National Association of Diaconate Directors gathering in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more.
April 11: CMN speaker Dale Recinella will be presenting about his work and ministry on Florida's death row to students and faculty at John Paul II High School in Tallahassee, Fla., as part of their Distinguished Citizen Lecture Series.
April 16: CMN’s Cathy Jarboe will be presenting at a Faithful Citizenship Conference in Kentucky sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville.
April 21: CMN speaker Dale Recinella will be speaking on this theme, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council # 9236 of St. Andrew’s Parish & The Orlando (Fla.)Diocese/
Office of Advocacy and Justice. Read more.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out a ful list of CMN Events.