News from the Diocese
Arizona Catholic Bishops Oppose Death Penalty
PHOENIX (March 28, 2011) — The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference released a statement today voicing their opposition to the use of the death penalty. One execution is scheduled for tomorrow, and a second one the first week of April.
Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of Phoenix; Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop of Tucson; Most Rev. James S. Wall, bishop of Gallup; Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares, auxiliary bishop of Phoenix; and Most Rev. Gerald Dino, bishop of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix, state the death penalty in Arizona is not needed to defend the common good and contributes to the "culture of death."
The statement follows:
Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops' Statement Opposing the Death Penalty
At the outset of this statement, we express our compassion for those who are victims of brutal crimes and for their families. The effects of murder, in particular, are truly awful for families, and we pray for the healing of all those who grieve and suffer because of murder.
As Arizona approaches two scheduled executions, we are compelled to express again our opposition to the use of the death penalty in our state.
We firmly hold that capital punishment is state-sanctioned vengeance that is not in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hold that capital punishment – when other means are available to keep society safe from dangerous criminals – denies the intrinsic dignity and sanctity of human life.
The commission of a heinous crime, especially one in which a life has been taken, should result in punishment.
But, the use of the death penalty – when other means are available to keep society safe – is actually a contribution to a "culture of death." It is an act of eye-for-an-eye vengeance that contradicts the values of our nation and that denies the dignity and sanctity of human life.
Pope John Paul II, an ardent defender of human life on the world stage, articulated that the use of capital punishment should be limited only to extremely rare situations where it is necessary to defend society (Evangelium Vitae, #56).
Executions in our state do not defend anyone, and are therefore wrong.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Arizona, call for an end to the unnecessary violence of the death penalty.
We pray that the dignity and sanctity of human life at every stage be respected and protected.
Read the statement at www.azcatholicconference.org.