Elimination of the Death Penalty: A Vincentian Issue

by | May 14, 2017 | Formation, Justice and Peace

The Church speaks clearly in opposition to the death penalty.

“The dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform.”
–Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995

Sr. Helen Prejean’s life and her book, “Dead Man Walking” have become notable for many reasons.

Prejean’s fight to abolish the death penalty is not just a fight against one component of the penal system; it is a battle in the greater war for social justice. Prejean begins her career of social activism by working with the residents of the St. Thomas projects. From there, she becomes an anti-death penalty advocate. Her experiences in the projects and in prison are linked not only by violence, but also by poverty and by a flawed, arbitrary, and biased justice system. Capital punishment, poverty, and violence must be understood as three symptoms of the general injustice of society. Each struggle for the poor and disposed is a struggle for justice.

This linking of Catholic issues makes it a Vincentian issue. Did you know Prejean chose a Vincentian institution to house her archives?

See, judge and act. Resources are available at the USCCB website.