Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development Issues Statement on the Death Penalty

WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has issued a statement on the federal government’s decision to resume the use of the death penalty.

The full statement follows:

“In his address to Congress during his 2015 Apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Francis, echoing the views of his predecessors, called for ‘the global abolition of the death penalty.’ He further stated that, ‘[A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’ As the Catechism of the Catholic Church now provides, ‘The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’

At their meeting in June, the Catholic Bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly to update the Catechism for use by adults in the United States to reflect this position. This is consistent with comparable calls by the Bishops for over forty years, including in their 2005 statement, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.

In light of these long held and strongly maintained positions, I am deeply concerned by the announcement of the United States Justice Department that it will once again turn, after many years, to the death penalty as a form of punishment. I urge instead that Federal officials take this teaching into consideration, as well as the evidence showing its unfair and biased application, and abandon the announced plans to implement the death penalty once more.”