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Amplifying the Catholic Church’s Strong Stance Against the Death Penalty

End the death penalty and to promote restorative justice

The Situation

There are more than 2,500 people on death row who are at risk of execution across the United States. They are primarily men, disproportionately African-American, and range in age from late teens to 70s and 80s. Many of these inmates also suffer from mental illness, intellectual disability, childhood abuse, trauma, and more.

Twenty-eight states still have men and women on death row, and while executions are declining, the US as a country still executed 22 people in 2019. The Department of Justice’s attempts to resume federal execution only furthers the threat to human life.

The Sisters’ Response

n 2008, a collection of women religious — including Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ (author of “Dead Man Walking”) — came together with activists, murder victims’ family members and representatives from prominent Catholic organizations to brainstorm how they could support the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty. 

As a result of their efforts, the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development launched the Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) in January of 2009 to implement the bishops’ campaign to end the death penalty and to promote restorative justice. CMN continues to work closely with the USCCB and is a founding member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Ministry Network.

Funds Needed: $55,000

How funds will be used:
In order to amplify the Catholic Church’s strong pro-life stance against the death penalty, mobilize women religious to leverage and deepen their leading role in opposing capital punishment, and strengthen the overall movement to abolish the death penalty, CMN will hire a religious sister to coordinate these efforts.

This new member of CMN’s staff will be an influential voice at the table when determining program advances, new resources, and ensuring relevant messaging. This religious sister will be key to including the voice of women religious, while building strong connections to women’s congregations, and additionally will explore deeper engagement with murder victim family members

Systemic Impact

Catholic Mobilizing Network is the only explicitly faith-based organization intimately involved in the movement to end capital punishment. Through education, advocacy and prayer, CMN asserts the Catholic Church’s strong stance against the death penalty and mobilizes people of faith to act.

In the eleven years since CMN entered the abolition movement, eight states have abolished capital punishment (the most recent being Colorado, just last month) and three others have distanced themselves from the practice through governor-declared execution bans.

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Amplifying the Catholic Church’s Strong Stance Against the Death Penalty
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