“Catholic teaching offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment. It begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human person applies to both victims and offenders. It affirms our commitment to comfort and support victims and their families, while acknowledging the God-given dignity of every human life, even those who do great harm.”
Pope Francis has called all Catholics to promote the culture of life by specifically working to end the use of the death penalty. As he stated, “all Christians and men of good will are called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve the prison conditions, in respect of the human dignity of the persons deprived of freedom."
The pope explained his reasons in his message to the U.S. Congress, "The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes."
Utah Catholics are in a position to do much to end the death penalty in our state starting now. During the 2017 legislative session, legislators will consider a bill to repeal the penalty. This would mean that the maximum sentence in Utah would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. In other words, a person convicted of the most serious capital crimes would spend the rest of his or her days in prison, providing that person with the opportunity to reconcile with God and make amends for the crime while protecting the public. Last year, a repeal bill made it through the Senate and a House committee before time ran out on a final vote.