on the death penalty
July 9, 2002
Like all good citizens,
Catholics want justice for both the innocent and the guilty. But we do
not believe the death penalty accomplishes that for either.
The death penalty
doesn't work as a deterrent. It doesn't give anyone "closure" because
only forgiveness can do that. And finally it diminishes all of us - the
executioners - by reducing us to the same violence as the murderer.
Catholics can respect
proposals to make the death penalty contingent on a unanimous jury decision.
This approach clearly does a better job of protecting the rights of the
accused and the interests of society than our current system. But -- more
importantly -- we need to root all of our thinking about the death penalty
in the sanctity of the human person. All life is sacred. Every person,
even the murderer, is a child of God with God-given dignity. As a result,
except in the most extreme circumstances, capital punishment cannot be
justified. In developed countries like our own, it should have no place
in our public life.
We believe the time
is right for Coloradans to put all executions on hold. We believe the
time is right to think deeply and carefully about the kind of justice
we want to witness to our young people. We don't need to kill people to
protect society. We don't need to kill people to punish the guilty. And
we should never be in a hurry to take anyone's life.
As the assembly
meets on this vital issue this week, the governor and legislators can
do our state a great service. We encourage them to commit themselves to
re-examining the death penalty - its justification and its application
-- in a serious way in next year's regular session.
Colorado has nothing
to lose and much to gain from the debate. The times call for it. So does
+ Charles J Chaput,
Archbishop of Denver
+Josť H. Gomez,
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver