The Death Penalty
"Abolition of the death penalty is most consonant with the example of Jesus, who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice."

US Bishops, Statement on Capital Punishment, art. 13


Neither Retribution Nor Deterrence Justify Death Penalty By the bishops of Florida
Pastoral Letter on the Death Penalty By the bishops of Missouri
A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop Howard Hubbard on the Death Penalty Testimony by Most. Rev. Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop of Albany, before a joint hearing of the Assembly Codes, Corrections and Judiciary Committees, January 25, 2005

Statement on Abolition of the Death Penalty Roman Catholic Bishops of Connecticut, January 12, 2005

Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey on the Death Penalty February 4, 2005

Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota Opposing the Death Penalty, Dec. 3, 2003
Let Justice and Mercy Meet: Crime, Punishment and the Common Good in Light of Sacred Scripture and Catholic Teaching A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Louisiana, January 2002

Denver bishops' statement on the death penalty

Catholic Church Teaching on the Death Penalty A brochure issued by the Florida Catholic Conference, June 2002

Declaration of the Holy See to the First World Congress on the Death Penalty

Turning Away from Violence: An Appeal by the Bishops of Colorado to End the Death Penalty May 10, 2001

Massachusetts Catholic Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment Feb. 20, 2001

The Death Penalty - Choose Life: A Statement on Capital Punishment by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Feb. 2001
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice U.S. Catholic Bishops' statement

A Witness To Life: The Catholic Church and the Death Penalty Address by Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
The Gospel of Life and capital Punishment: A Reflection Piece and Study Guide, Statement from the California Catholic Conference

A Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty Statement of the Administrative Board of the U.S. Catholic Conference

The Gospel of Life vs. The Death Penalty Pastoral letter by Bishop Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap. of Fall River, Massachusetts

Massachusetts Catholic Bishops Statement on Capital Punishment March 22, 1999

Abolition of the Death Penalty Intervention by H.E. Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations before the Third Committee of the 54th Session of the General Assembly
Iowa Catholic Bishops' Statement on Death Penalty

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Texas Opposing the Execution of the Mentally Retarded, 1998
Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Texas on Capital Punishment Oct. 1997

The True Road to Justice Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver
Church Teaches that All Life is Valuable Statement by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis

A Bishop's Statement on Capital Punishment Statement by Bishop Joseph V. Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Choose Life: Reflections on the Death PenaltyA Letter from the Kentucky Bishops

Affirming Justice and Mercy Ohio Catholic Bishops statement
Capital Punishment in Wisconsin By the bishops of Wisconsin

Reverence for Life and the Preservation of the Common Good By the bishops of North Dakota

Creating New Hearts: Moving from Retributive to Restorative Justice Pastoral letter from the bishops of New Zealand

Stories of Violence and Responses to It Statement by Bishop Brunett of Helena, Montana

New Mexico Catholic Conference Opposes Death Penalty and Calls for Prison Reform Sept. 7, 1995
Restoring All to the Fullness of Life By the Bishops of New York, Feb. 15, 1994

Addendum to the Oklahoma Catholic Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment

Oregon Catholic Bishops' statement
The Montana Catholic Conference on Capital Punishment
Statement on Capital Punishment U.S. Catholic Bishops

The Death Penalty Supported Archbishop Francis J. Furey of San Antonio

Statement on Capital Punishment Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin
A Florida Bishop Speaks Against Capital Punishment Bishop Gracida of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Feast of St. John the Evangelist Capital Punishment William Cardinal Baum
Statement of Bishop Joseph Green of Reno
Statement On Capital Punishment Bishops of Florida
The Vatican, The Holy Father and the Death Penalty Passages dealing with the death penalty

Death Penalty Statements by Bishop Kenneth A. Angell of Burlington, VT


The Death Penalty 1991 statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Position on Capital Punishment From the Reformed Church in America

American Baptist Resolution on Capital Punishment Adopted in 1958 and 1966, reaffirmed in 1980 and 1982

Resolution on the Death Penalty By the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 2003

Reaffirm Opposition to Capital Punishment 1979 resolution of the Episcopal Church

Report on Capital Punishment Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1976

Capital Punishment Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Death Penalty United Church of Christ

The Death Penalty United Methodist Church

Statement on the Death Penalty Church of the Brethren

Capital Punishment Community of Christ

A Resolution: The Death Penalty, 2001 Mennonite Church USA

Capital Punishment The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

NCC Supports Moratorium On Death Penalty National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

On Capital Punishment Southern Baptist Convention

Capital Punishment Resolution adopted by the CCAR at the 90th Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1979

Capital Punishment Marcus Jastrow and S. Mendelsohn in the Jewish Eneyclopedia, 1906

Islam and the Death Penalty By William A. Schabas in William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 2000

Buddhism & Capital Punishment Article in The American Journal of Jurisprudence by Damien P. Horigan, 1996

Unitarian Universalists for Alternatives to the Death Penalty


Statement on Capital Punishment Issued by the Christian Council of Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore

Georgia Bishops And The Death Penalty 1980 statement by the Catholic bishops of Georgia and the Episcopal bishop of Atlanta

Resolution on Capital Punishment By the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, September 7, 1990

To End the Death Penalty By The National Jewish-Catholic Consultation, USA in SIDIC Periodical, December 6, 1999

Resolution Opposing the Death Penalty Adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the Texas Conference of Churches, February 24, 1998

Death Penalty's Future Rhode Island Religious Leaders, February 19, 1976


A Slow Death: Capital Punishment Hangs on By William Bole in Commonweal, June 19, 2009

Crime and Punishment: A Christian Perspective By Gerry O'Hanlon, SJ, of the Jesuit Centre for Faith & Justice, July 2008

Crime And Punishment: A Christian Perspective By Gerry O'Hanlon SJ in Working Notes of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, July 2008

The Death Penalty Podcast of presentation by Creighton University ethics professor Dr. Julia Fleming, 2008

Tracing the Moral Contours of the Evolving Standards of Decency: The Supreme Court's Capital Jurisprudence Post-Roper By Dr. Saby Ghoshray in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 2007

Pope John Paul II, Vatican II, and Capital Punishment By Howard Bromberg in Ave Maria Law Review, 2007

Capital Punishment and the Law By Keven L. Flannery, SJ in Ave Maria Law Review, 2007

Implementing the Death Penalty: The Moral Implications of Recent Advances in Neuropsychology By Peggy Sasso in Cardozo Law Review, November 2007

Beyond Extrinsic Forgiveness: Recognizing the Dignity of the Offender By Eric Gudan in The Catholic Social Science Review, 2006

Catholics and the Death Penalty By Kevin M. Doyle & Charles J. Hynes. Panel Discussion moderated by Art C. Cody, in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 2006

A Method for the Madness: Restorative Justice as a Valid Mode of Punishment and an Advancement of Catholic Social Thought By Patrick J. Smith in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 2006

Catholic Jurors and the Death Penalty By Gerald F. Uelmen in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 2006

Some Reflections on the Origins and Implications of Mass Imprisonment in the United States By Karim Ismaili in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 2006

Punishment, Prisons, and the Bible: Does “Old Testament Justice” Justify Our Retributive Culture? By Martin H. Pritikin in Cardozo Law Review, November 2006

Capital Punishment and the Morality of Human Rights By Michael J. Perry in Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Spring 2005

Foundations Once Destroyed: The Catholic Church and Criminal Justice By Andrew Skotnicki in Theological Studies, December 2004

The Christian Perspective on Capital Punishment: An Evaluation of Rehabilitation By Andrew Uduigwomen in Quodlibet Journal, July - September 2004

Christian Witness, Moral Anthropology, and the Death Penalty By Richard W. Garnett, Notre Dame Law School, in A Call for Reckoning: Religion and the Death Penalty, Erik C. Owens, et al., eds., 2004

Sanctity of Life & the Death Penalty: Flip Sides of the Same “Divine” Coin By Richard Eric Gunby in Quodlibet Journal, July 2003

Crime and Mercy By Dan Moloney, University of Notre Dame, at the “Formation and Renewal Conference” in the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, 2003

He Beareth Not the Sword in Vain: The Church, the Courts, and Capital Punishment By Patrick M. Laurence in Ave Maria Law Review, 2003

Amrozi and Luke's Gospel By Michael Trainor in Compass: A Review of Topical Theology, Spring 2003

Capital Punishment on Trial: Does Judaism Condone Capital Punishment? By Rabbi Dan Polish in Reform Judaism Online, Summer 2002

Death-Penalty Activism: Bringing Faith and Creativity to the Struggle By Joe Wakelee-Lynch in The Witness, January-February 2002

Death Penalty Symposium: Scalia and Dulles Comment on Editorial By Justice Antonin Scalia and Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, in National Catholic Register, March 24-31, 2002

Antonin Scalia and His Critics: The Church, the Courts, and the Death Penalty By Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ. Response to “God's Justice and Ours,” by Antonin Scalia. First Things May 2002. First Things, October 2002

Sectarian Reflections on Lawyers' Ethics and Death Row Volunteers By Richard W. Garnett, Notre Dame Law School, in Notre Dame Law Review, 2002

Faith Traditions and the Death Penalty Panel discussion with Cardinal Dulles, David Novak, Gilbert Meilaender, and Khaled Abou El Fadl. Chair: Jean Bethke Elshtain. The University of Chicago Divinity School. January 25, 2002

Religious Reflections on the Death Penalty Transcript of a session at the 2001 conference. Speakers: John Carr, Secretary, Department of Social Development and World Peace, US Catholic Conference; Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Barrett Duke, Vice President of Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention; Rev. Joseph Lowery, Chairman, Black Leadership Forum and Co-founder, President Emeritus, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Catholicism & Capital Punishment By Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, in First Things, April 2001

Correspondence By Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, in , August / September 2001

Statement by Pax Christi USA Regarding the Death Penalty, 2000

Pro-Life, Anti-Death Penalty? By James R. Kelly and Christopher Kudlac in America, April 2000

Just Punishment and America's Prison Experiment By Patrick T. Mccormick in Theological Studies, September 2000

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2000
  • Introduction to the Symposium: Religion's Role in the Administration of the Death Penalty By Stephen P. Garvey
  • Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty By Thomas C. Berg
  • Don't Take His Eye, Don't Take His Tooth, and Don't Cast the First Stone: Limiting Religious Arguments in Capital Cases By John H. Blume and Sheri Lynn Johnson
  • Abortion, Capital Punishment, and the Politics of "God's" Will By Kimberly J. Cook
  • God and the Executioner: The Influence of Western Religion on the Use of the Death Penalty By Davison M. Douglas
  • Religious Organizations and the Death Penalty By Robert F. Drinan
  • Capital Punishments and Religious Arguments: An Intermediate Approach By Samuel J. Levine
  • Religious Neutrality and the Death Penalty By Arnold H. Loewy
  • The Role of Organized Religions in Changing Death Penalty Debates By Michael L. Radelet
  • Transcript of Speech on Religions's Role in the Administration of the Death Penalty By Pat Robertson
  • Islam and the Death Penalty By William A. Schabas
  • Punishment at all Costs: On Religion, Convicting the Innocent, and Supporting the Death Penalty By Robert L. Young

    Sister Helen Prejean : On Death Row - Nun Author And Anti-Death Penalty Movement By Raymond A. Schroth in Commonweal, Oct 6, 2000

    We, the Jury: But Not in Capital Cases Editorial in Commonweal, June 2, 2000

    Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty By Thomas C. Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law, in William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, December 2000

    Mother Teresa and the Death Penalty By Father John Dear, SJ in America, June 1999

    Do Circumstances Ever Justify Capital Punishment? By Peter Black in Theological Studies, June 1999

    Crime and Punishment By Donald X. Burt, OSA. Chapter 10 of Friendship and Society: An Introduction to Augustine's Practical Philosophy, 1999. Augustine's Views on Punishment. The Morality of Capital Punishment

    To Abolish Capital Punishement By Antonio Beristain in Promotio Iustitiae, July 1999

    An execution in Texas By Bishop Jacques Gaillot, March 1998

    Community for a "Dead Man" By Joe Nangle, OFM in Sojourners, January-February 1998

    To Die For: The death penalty is nothing more than revenge By Carol Fennelly in Sojourners, July-August 1998

    Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair: Lawyers push for end to executions By John Cole Vodicka in Sojourners, May-June 1997

    An Eye for an Eye? the Morality of Punishment By Christopher Townsend in Cambridge Papers, March 1997

    Hard Evidence: Hearing the facts about the death penalty By Julie Polter in Sojourners, May-June 1996

    Punishing Evildoers with the Sword: Further Discussion? By Robert Holyer in Word & World, 1996

    The Death Penalty: Why the Church Speaks a Countercultural Message By Kenneth R. Overberg, S.J. in Catholic Update, 1995

    Leaven of Forgiveness: Murder victims' families stand against the death penalty By Mary Sue Penn in Sojourners, May-June 1995

    The Thirst for Revenge: Trying to Understand Capital Punishment By Sidney Callahan in Commonweal, June 16, 1995

    The Death Penalty: Why the Church Speaks a Countercultural Message By Kenneth R. Overberg, S.J. in Catholic Update, 1995

    Capital Punishment By John Langan in Theological Studies, March 1993

    Capital Punishment By Kerby Anderson, chief executive officer of Probe Ministries International, 1992

    Capital Punishment By John Willis in the Catholic encyclopedia, 1911

    Is Capital Punishment Sanctioned by Divine Authority? By Church of Christ minister Alexander Campbell, 1846

    A Reply to Alexander Campbell By Tolbert Fanning in Christian Review, 1847

    Thomas Aquinas: On Murder Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 64

    Death Penalty Articles from the magazine Salt of the Earth

    The Death Penalty By the people at Lux Veritatis


    Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty The Catholic campaign will work to change the debate and decisions on the use of the death penalty: building a constituency for life, not death; calling on our lawmakers to lead, not follow; to defend life, not take it away

    Catholic Teaching on the Death Penalty From the Office for Mission Effectiveness at Villanova University

    Catholic Teaching and Criminal Justice From the Office for Mission Effectiveness at Villanova University

    Helen Prejean, CSJ Author of "Dead Man Walking"

    Catholics Against Capital Punishment CACP was founded in January 1992 to promote greater awareness of Catholic Church teachings that characterize capital punishment as inappropriate and unacceptable in today's world. It does this in three ways: By communicating such teachings to federal and state lawmakers, especially those who are Catholic, urging them to oppose proposed legislation imposing or extending the use of the death penalty and to work for repeal of such laws currently on the books; By encouraging members of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy in the U. S. to speak out more forcefully against capital punishment; By mobilizing the support of the Catholic laity to achieve the above two goals

    Stat house: Capital Punishment Statistics from the magazine Salt of the Earth

    NO to the Death Penalty Resources from the Community of Sant'Egidio

    California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty Our members include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and people from other faith traditions. As communities of faith, we join together to take responsibility for the killing of our citizens by the State of California

    Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty Hebrew and Christian Scriptures relating to the Death Penalty. Capital Punishment in North America. Reasons for and against Capital Punishment. Internet Resources

    Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989), entered into force July 11, 1991

    Ethics Updates: Punishment and the Death Penalty Provides: 1. internet links relating to punishment and the death penalty; 2. survey of philosophical work on punishment and the death penalty; 3. summaries of recent articles on punishment and the death penalty; 4. discussion topics and term paper topics on punishment and the death penalty

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    Email webmaster Gerald Darring