CMN is grateful that the death penalty has been removed from law in the state of Maryland. We thank all of those who have worked tirelessly for many years for this day. We applaud Governor Martin O'Malley's courage in championing the bill and signing the legislation on May 2.
We see many more states on the brink of choosing life over death through efforts to end the death penalty. We continue to pray for all those who work for the dignity of all life. As we hear Jesus tell the disciples in the Gospel this Pentecost Sunday, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21).
In this issue, we highlight Georgia, especially the Georgia Catholic Conference, which helped create Georgia Catholics Against the Death Penalty. GACADP, working in concert with the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference, educates Catholics about the Church's teachings on this pro-life issue. This model of collaboration serves as a great example of what CMN hopes to accomplish in other states.
CMN and GACADP also promote restorative justice. This commitment reflects Gospel values to repair the harm caused when a crime is committed. It is a community-centered approach that views crime as a violation of people and relationships, rather than simply a violation of law and recognizes that repair of those relationships requires more than punishment.
We are pleased to introduce CMN's Restorative Justice Workshop for Teens this month, which is designed specifically to help young people reflect creatively on this church teaching. We hope you will not only make use of this workshop and our other materials in your own communities, parishes and study groups, but will distribute them widely and invite others to connect with our work. We pray that the next generation of our church will embody what Pope Benedict XVI called, "a community of persons reconciled with God and among themselves" (Address to the African Synod of Bishops, March 2009).
May the Spirit of Pentecost give you peace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In this May 2013 newsletter you will find:
THE GEORGIA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE AND DEATH PENALTY ADVOCACY
By Francis J. Mulcahy, J.D., M.T.S., Executive Director, Georgia Catholic Conference
The death penalty is not only legal in Georgia, it is routinely carried out and widely supported by public officials and the electorate. In the midst of this reality, the Georgia Catholic Conference speaks consistently against the death penalty, in harmony with our state’s bishops.
Abolition of the death penalty in Georgia must originate at the grassroots before change will occur in the halls of the Capitol - and this type of advocacy requires faith and perseverance at all levels. Nearly two years ago, Deacon Dick Tolcher created Georgia Catholics Against the Death Penalty (GACADP) as a forum to educate Catholics about Catholic teaching on the death penalty and coordinate our efforts throughout the state. The organization enjoys the support of all the bishops of Georgia.
GACADP works in close collaboration with CMN, incorporating CMN materials and workshops into the important work that it does.
WORKING IN THE MEMORY OF TROY DAVIS: GEORGIANS FOR ALTERNATIVES TO THE DEATH PENALTY
By Kathryn Hamoudah, Board Member, GFADP
Founded in 1996, Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals working to end the death penalty, build power in communities targeted by the criminal justice system, protect the rights and dignity of those on death row and their families, and transform Georgia’s broken public safety system. In our 17 years we have successfully passed resolutions in three Georgia cities in opposition to the death penalty, blocked legislation (several times) at the state level that would have allowed non-unanimous juries, and restored contact visits for lawyers, clergy and families for folks on the row among other victories. For much of the last decade we worked tirelessly to free Troy Davis and to expose the systemic problems in his case. The campaign to stop his execution compelled tens of thousands of Georgians to take action and sparked an international movement. This movement exposed the unfairness, racial disparities and unethical law enforcement practices inherent in Georgia’s current system.
CMN INTRODUCES NEW RESTORATIVE JUSTICE WORKSHOP FOR HIGH SCHOOL TEENS
When conflicts arise between teens, the challenge often centers on how we resolve the situation in a just fashion that also promotes healing for victims, offenders and the community as a whole. This workshop - shared through the lens of John 8:1-11 (“The Woman Caught in Adultery”) - leads youth through a process of role-play and relationship-building designed to help participants experience issues from different perspectives. Through relationship we learn how to approach one another with mercy and compassion. Entering into the circle of another's experience - both victim and offender - helps promote a sense of empathy and respect through which understanding and healing can take place. To access this new, free CMN resource, click here. You may also contact CMN’s Director of Youth Ministry, Wayne Hipley, for more information.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE FOCUS: VISITORS' SERVICE CENTER
The Visitors' Services Center (VSC), located in the District of Columbia, empowers prisoners while they are incarcerated and helps them transition into the community upon release. Founded in 1969, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has supported VSC's efforts and welcomed their initiatives to provide services to the inmates and to the D.C. Jail staff. They are unique among area nonprofits in terms of access to the jail and to inmates.
For additional Restorative Justice resources, click here.
CMN FEATURED IN TWO ADVOCACY NEWSLETTERS
This spring, we are honored to have been featured in the newsletters of two major organizations that are dedicated to ending the death penalty and promoting restorative justice.
First, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) featured CMN in its Spring issue of Lifelines, where an article penned by Executive Director Karen Clifton and Director for Catholic Networks and Organizations Cathy Jarboe described our history, mission and resources.
Next, we were grateful that Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) ran a beautiful piece on the story of our own Education Coordinator and speaker, Vicki Schieber, and her personal commitment to the effort to end the death penalty in her home state of Maryland.
These stories highlight the importance of the work CMN is doing in developing Catholic resources to end the death penalty. They also show how CMN provides crucial support from Catholics around the country for the efforts of partner organizations.
As you read the above articles and consider the work of CMN, we invite you to consider a donation to help support our crucial work as more and more people recognize that ending the death penalty and promoting true restorative justice are important pro-life issues.
DEAD MAN WALKING PLAY PROJECT UPDATE
By Greg Callaghan, Dead Man Walking Play Project Coordinator
Dead Man Walking was produced in more than eight states this school year. Since the launch of the play project in 2004, six states have abolished the death penalty. Performed in each of those states, the play has served as a powerful educational tool as public support for the death penalty has shifted.
May 18: Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will be part of a dinner presentation in Centerville, Ohio. In addition to dinner, there will be testimonies from others, a silent auction, raffles and other entertainment.
May 19-21: CMN speakers Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, and Dale Recinella will be presenting at the National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry in Orlando. The theme this year is “Building Bridges Not Walls,” and is sponsored by the Diocesan Council of Orlando’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul. For more information on the convocation call (407) 814-3869 or visit their website. You can also request more information by e-mail.
May 21-24: CMN will be present at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Annual Convening and Lobby Day in Arlington, Va., which also occurs during the 25th anniversary year of the organization. The focus of this year’s convening is “A Celebration of Service, Justice and Faith” and will review issues related to federal immigration reform legislation.
May 31-June 1: CMN's Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi will be participating and exhibiting at the Archdiocese of Atlanta's annual Eucharistic Congress. This event which features an exhibition on both days, dynamic speakers, inspirational music, and special tracks for kids, teens, Hispanics, Vietnamese, and the deaf. Find out more details and register on their website.
June 14-16: CMN will be exhibiting at the Pax Christi USA 40th Anniversary National Conference in Atlanta. This year’s theme is “Remembering the Past with Gratitude, Living the Present with Enthusiasm, Embracing the Future with Confidence and Hope.” For more information, visit Pax Christi's website.
June 15: CMN's Director of Youth Ministry Wayne Hipley will be presenting our Introduction to Restorative Justice Workshop at The Society of St. Vincent De Paul Eastern Region Conference in Dover, Delaware.
June 19-21: CMN will be participating in National Conference on Restorative Justice in Toldeo, Ohio, which is expected to attract nearly 500 restorative justice academics, community leaders, educators, faith leaders, judges, politicians, policymakers, practitioners and concerned citizens from the U.S. and abroad. Conference attendees will be exploring the use of restorative justice principles and practices to meet local needs. Learn more about the conference and register on their website.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out our full Calendar of Events.
If you have an event that your local Catholic organization is presenting or sponsoring on the death penalty or on a restorative justice topic and you would like it to appear in our CMN newsletter, please send us the relevant information, including flyers and complete descriptions of the event at least four weeks in advance. CMN may edit or choose not to publish any submission.