Proud of the Catholics!

There are times when being a Catholic has not been easy for me. There have been times when I thought the Church did the wrong things, or, more often, did not do the right things with enough force. But this week was not one of those times!

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops came out of their semi-annual gathering in Washington D.C. to release a new statement against capital punishment! The statement reaffirmed, in ever-strengthening language, that as a Church which expresses an abiding belief in the sanctity of all human life, we can no longer give our support to a policy which so fundamentally denies the dignity of some lives, and called on Catholics across the country to pray, learn, and act to end the death penalty. The statement also repeated what we know to be true: that the death penalty is applied unfairly along racial and economic lines. The bishops affirmed that, as people of faith and conscience, we must look at all these dimensions of the capital punishment system.

All across America, people of faith are beginning to re-examine their positions on the death penalty. Recently, polls have shown that the majority of catholic now do not support capital punishment. Additionally, those who attend mass at least once a week are more likely to oppose the death penalty than those who do not. More and more, we see a polarization of America into liberal and conservative camps. People who attend church regularly tend to fall into the “conservative” camp and vote overwhelmingly Republican. The death penalty is often labeled as a “liberal” cause, which would make one think that the trends for supporting the death penalty would run along the same lines as they do for voting. Fortunately, these numbers tell us that this is not the case. The death penalty is an issue which is not easily boxed or pigeon-holed. When we are talking about killing a human being, people on all sides of the political spectrum, especially from faith communities find that their consciences and beliefs cannot accept the killing of another human being. We are not liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans. We are Abolitionists who believe that life is sacred, that justice is vital. For once the Catholic Church and I completely agree.

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