Insights: Death Penalty, Roe v. Wade, Mercy

California Tries to Revamp Death Penalty Procedures

After having its death penalty protocols repeatedly ruled unconstitutional, California will once again attempt to rewrite the process to comply with court rulings.  The California Catholic Conference will be among many speaking out against the use of the death penalty and the protocols at a hearing next Friday.

“The Golden Rule,” said Pope Francis in his address to Congress last fall, “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.”

In California’s proposal for new death protocols, not only do the regulations limit the inmate’s access to chaplains and spiritual advisors as the execution draws near but – in an effort to make the killing more humane –  the state has switched from a three drug protocol to one drug. The effectiveness of this new single drug protocol is still questionable.   

The cocktail of deadly drugs are designed to address the growing number of “botched” executions in this country and are one of the many reasons the death penalty is receiving more scrutiny.   Increased awareness of the disparate use of the punishment among minorities and stunning revelations that many innocent people are executed are also some of the many reasons this nation is moving away from the death penalty.

Nineteen states have already eliminated its use and just this week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida’s protocols unconstitutional.  In addition to the U.S., only four other industrialized nations use the punishment.   China puts more people to death than any other nation followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States.

California holds 746 people on San Quentin’s Death Row.  The last execution in the state was on Jan. 17, 2006.

Consistency in the abhorrence of violence is the hallmark of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty. In the Culture of Life and the Death Penalty the U.S. Bishops also point to the fact that state-sanctioned killing diminishes us all, the application of capital punishment is flawed and inconsistent, and that the state has other ways of punishing criminals. 

The Catholic Legislative Network will email an Action Alert early next week so that you can voice your opposition to the use of the death penalty and the limited role of chaplains in the new protocols.  Visit our Death Penalty page in the Reverence for Life Section of our website for more information.  A great deal of information, church teaching and news is also available on the website of Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty.

Events Around California, Nation Mark Roe v. Wade Anniversary

The Washington March for Life began in 1974 on the first anniversary of the notorious Roe v. Wade decision.  About 20,000 people attended that first year but it has grown substantially.  In recent times the crowd has reached nearly 800,000.  Participants march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court and hear from speakers, elected officials and activist leaders during the day.

Similar marches now take place around the nation – with three major iterations occurring here in California.  (Actually, similar events are also held around the world.  Paris, Warsaw and Prague all have had marches for life.) 

Events that promote life, solidarity with our neighbors, the common good, justice and forgiveness are a wonderful way to participate in the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.

The Walk for Life West Coast – taking place in San Francisco – began in 2005 with around 7,000 participants and in recent years the crowd estimates have reached around 50,000.  This year the walk will be on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 beginning in Civic Center Plaza at 12:30 PM.  Other details can be found at the event’s website –

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Year of Mercy:  Liberty for Victims of Human Trafficking

During the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, the California Catholic Conference will publish monthly stories on how mercy is being demonstrated by Catholics around the state.  This month’s publication, which is also available as a bulletin insert, is devoted toward uncovering the indignity of human trafficking.

Human trafficking – modern day slavery – is present in every community -whether affluent or underprivileged.  Women, men and children are working against their will – sometimes in households and businesses we pass by every day.  No community is free of this scourge which Pope Francis often discusses when he urges us to find and care for those on the margins of society.

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Interfaith Prayer Services Marks State of Legislative Year

The Interfaith Council of Sacramento sponsored a prayer service this week for lawmakers and bless them as they begin the year.  Bishop Jaime Soto from Sacramento who is also President of the California Catholic Conference, gave some brief closing remarks:

“Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”  These are the words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples in the gospel according to Luke.  This can be a high order or it can be the fortunate consequence of having been the object of His mercy.  To know God’s mercy compels one to be merciful as He is merciful.  To know His mercy is also to grasp the wisdom with which he mercifully cares for each one of His children.

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Junípero Serra students won the Verizon App Challenge. You can help them win another grant by voting here.

For more information about their app, click here.

Catholic Charities Continues to Provide Legal Aid to Unaccompanied

Catholic Charities of California has announced that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has again chosen to award the organization additional funding to provide Unaccompanied Undocumented Minor (UUM) Legal Services in the current fiscal year.  Catholic Charities will receive an additional $100,000, bringing the total grant amount to $340,000 for Fiscal Year 2015-16.  These funds will allow local agencies to provide legal services to 68 unaccompanied undocumented minors.

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January 15, 2016
Vol. 9, No. 2

En Español

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