The Death Penalty
“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.”

Pope Francis, Address to Congress


Catholic Bishops of Florida Continue to Call for End to Capital Punishment with SCOTUS Ruling The bishops of Florida

To build a culture of life we must respect the sanctity of even “unlovable” lives The bishops of Virginia

A Statement of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts on the Death Penalty The bishops of Massachusetts
Abolition of the Death Penalty Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas

Death Penalty Statement The bishops of Missouri

"It is impossible to imagine that States today fail to employ a means other than capital punishment to protect the lives of other people from the unjust aggressor. St John Paul II condemned the death penalty (cf. Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, n. 56), as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2267) as well. It can be established, however, that States take life not only through the death penalty and through war, but also when, in order to justify their crimes, public officials take refuge in the shadow of State prerogatives. So-called extra-judicial or extra-legal executions are homicides deliberately committed by certain States and by their agents, often passed off as clashes with criminals or presented as the unintended consequences of the reasonable, necessary and proportionate use of force in applying the law. In this way, although among the 60 Countries that sanction the death penalty, 35 have not applied it in the last 10 years, the death penalty is applied illegally and in varying degrees throughout the planet. The same extra-judicial executions are performed in a systematic way not only by States in the international community, but also by entities not recognized as such, and they are genuine crimes. There are many well known arguments against the death penalty. The Church has duly highlighted several, such as the possibility of judicial error and the use made by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes who use it as a means of suppressing political dissidence or of persecuting religious and cultural minorities, all victims who, in their respective legislation are termed “delinquents”. All Christians and men of good will are thus 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 prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom. And I link this to life imprisonment. A short time ago the life sentence was taken out of the Vatican’s Criminal Code. A life sentence is just a death penalty in disguise." Pope Francis, Address to the Delegates of the International Association of Penal Law
Statement on Pending Execution of Christopher Sepulvado The bishops of Louisiana
CA Bishops Support Prop 34 to End the Use of the Death Penalty The bishops of California
Statement Opposing the Death Penalty The bishops of Arizona

Choose Life: Reflections on the Death Penalty The bishops of Kentucky

"Together with the Synod members, I draw the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty and to reform the penal system in a way that ensures respect for the prisoners’ human dignity." Pope Benedict XVI, On The Church in Africa
Neither Retribution Nor Deterrence Justify Death Penalty The bishops of Florida

A Pastoral Statement on the Death Penalty in Washington State The bishops of Washington

2009 Capital Punishment Statement The bishops of Colorado
A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey on the Death Penalty The bishops of New Jersey
Pastoral Letter on the Death Penalty The bishops of Missouri

A Letter to Catholics in Wisconsin on the Death Penalty The bishops of Wisconsin

The Death Penalty No Justice No Healing No Closure The bishops of Indiana
A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey on the Death Penalty, February 4, 2005

Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota Opposing the Death Penalty, Dec. 3, 2003
Let Justice and Mercy Meet: Crime, Punishment and the Common Good in Light of Sacred Scripture and Catholic Teaching The bishops of Louisiana

Denver bishops' statement on the death penalty

Catholic Church Teaching on the Death Penalty Florida Catholic Conference
Declaration of the Holy See to the First World Congress on the Death Penalty

Turning Away from Violence: An Appeal by the Bishops of Colorado to End the Death Penalty

Statement on Capital Punishment The bishops of Massachusetts

The Death Penalty - Choose Life: A Statement on Capital Punishment The bishops of Pennsylvania
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice U.S. Catholic Bishops

A Call for the Abolition of the Death Penalty The bishops of Washington

A Witness To Life: The Catholic Church and the Death Penalty Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles
The Gospel of Life and capital Punishment: A Reflection Piece and Study Guide. Statement from the California Catholic Conference

A Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty Administrative Board of the U.S. Catholic Conference

The Gospel of Life vs. The Death Penalty Bishop Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap. of Fall River, Massachusetts

Statement on Capital Punishment The bishops of Massachusetts

Statement on the Death Penalty The bishops of Michigan

Abolition of the Death Penalty Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Apostolic Nuncio

"A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that 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. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary." Pope John Paul II, Homily in St. Louis
Statement on Death Penalty The bishops of Iowa

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Texas Opposing the Execution of the Mentally Retarded, 1998
Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Texas on Capital Punishment The bishops of Texas

Statement on Capital Punishment The bishops of Massachusetts

The True Road to Justice Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver
Church Teaches that All Life is Valuable Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis

A Bishop's Statement on Capital Punishment Bishop Joseph V. Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Choose Life: Reflections on the Death Penalty The bishops of Kentucky

Affirming Justice and Mercy The bishops of Ohio
Capital Punishment in Wisconsin The bishops of Wisconsin

Reverence for Life and the Preservation of the Common Good The bishops of North Dakota

Creating New Hearts: Moving from Retributive to Restorative Justice The bishops of New Zealand

Stories of Violence and Responses to It Bishop Brunett of Helena, Montana

New Mexico Catholic Conference Opposes Death Penalty and Calls for Prison Reform The bishops of New Mexico
Restoring All to the Fullness of Life The Bishops of New York

Statement on Capital Punishment The Bishops of Massachusetts
Justice & Mercy: Reassessing the Death Penalty The bishops of Ohio
Oregon Catholic Bishops' statement
Addendum to the Oklahoma Catholic Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment

The Montana Catholic Conference on Capital Punishment
Statement on Capital Punishment U.S. Catholic Bishops

The Death Penalty Supported Archbishop Francis J. Furey of San Antonio

Statement on Capital Punishment Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin

Statement on Capital Punishment The bishops of Ohio
A Florida Bishop Speaks Against Capital Punishment Bishop Gracida of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Feast of St. John the Evangelist Capital Punishment William Cardinal Baum
Statement of Bishop Joseph Green of Reno
Statement On Capital Punishment Bishops of Florida


The Death Penalty Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Position on Capital Punishment Reformed Church in America

American Baptist Resolutions on Capital Punishment

Resolution on the Death Penalty Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Reaffirm Opposition to Capital Punishment Episcopal Church

Report on Capital Punishment Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Capital Punishment Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Death Penalty United Church of Christ

The Death Penalty United Methodist Church

Statement on the Death Penalty Church of the Brethren

Capital Punishment Community of Christ

A Resolution: The Death Penalty, 2001 Mennonite Church USA

Capital Punishment The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

NCC Supports Moratorium On Death Penalty National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

On Capital Punishment Southern Baptist Convention

Capital Punishment General Council of the Assemblies of God

Resolution Number: 2000-A083 Episcopal Church

Resolution on the Death Penalty The Orthodox Church in America

Hinduism and capital punishment

Capital Punishment Central Conference of American Rabbis

Capital Punishment Marcus Jastrow and S. Mendelsohn in the Jewish Eneyclopedia

Islam and the Death Penalty William A. Schabas

Buddhism & Capital Punishment Damien P. Horigan

Unitarian Universalists for Alternatives to the Death Penalty


Statement on Capital Punishment Christian Council of Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore

Georgia Bishops And The Death Penalty Catholic bishops of Georgia and the Episcopal bishop of Atlanta

Resolution on Capital Punishment Oklahoma Conference of Churches

To End the Death Penalty The National Jewish-Catholic Consultation, USA

Resolution Opposing the Death Penalty General Assembly of the Texas Conference of Churches

Death Penalty's Future Rhode Island Religious Leaders


Crime and Punishment: A Christian Perspective Gerry O'Hanlon

The Death Penalty Dr. Julia Fleming

Pope John Paul II, Vatican II, and Capital Punishment Howard Bromberg

Capital Punishment and the Law Keven L. Flannery, SJ

Implementing the Death Penalty: The Moral Implications of Recent Advances in Neuropsychology Peggy Sasso

Beyond Extrinsic Forgiveness: Recognizing the Dignity of the Offender Eric Gudan

Catholics and the Death Penalty: Lawyers, Jurors & Judges: Foreword Amelia J. Uelmen

Catholic Jurors and the Death Penalty Gerald F. Uelmen

Punishment, Prisons, and the Bible: Does “Old Testament Justice” Justify Our Retributive Culture? Martin H. Pritikin

Foundations Once Destroyed: The Catholic Church and Criminal Justice Andrew Skotnicki

The Christian Perspective on Capital Punishment: An Evaluation of Rehabilitation Andrew Uduigwomen

Christian Witness, Moral Anthropology, and the Death Penalty Richard W. Garnett

Sanctity of Life & the Death Penalty: Flip Sides of the Same “Divine” Coin Richard Eric Gunby

Amrozi and Luke's Gospel Michael Trainor

Capital Punishment on Trial: Does Judaism Condone Capital Punishment? Rabbi Dan Polish

Death-Penalty Activism: Bringing Faith and Creativity to the Struggle Joe Wakelee-Lynch

Death Penalty Symposium: Scalia and Dulles Comment on Editorial Justice Antonin Scalia and Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ

Antonin Scalia and His Critics: The Church, the Courts, and the Death Penalty Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ

Sectarian Reflections on Lawyers' Ethics and Death Row Volunteers Richard W. Garnett

Faith Traditions and the Death Penalty Cardinal Dulles, David Novak, Gilbert Meilaender, and Khaled Abou El Fadl

Religious Reflections on the Death Penalty John Carr, Nathan Diament, Barrett Duke, Rev. Joseph Lowery

Catholicism & Capital Punishment Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ

Correspondence Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ

Statement by Pax Christi USA Regarding the Death Penalty

Pro-Life, Anti-Death Penalty? James R. Kelly and Christopher Kudlac

Just Punishment and America's Prison Experiment Patrick T. Mccormick

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2000
  • Introduction to the Symposium: Religion's Role in the Administration of the Death Penalty Stephen P. Garvey
  • Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty Thomas C. Berg
  • Don't Take His Eye, Don't Take His Tooth, and Don't Cast the First Stone: Limiting Religious Arguments in Capital Cases John H. Blume and Sheri Lynn Johnson
  • Abortion, Capital Punishment, and the Politics of "God's" Will Kimberly J. Cook
  • God and the Executioner: The Influence of Western Religion on the Use of the Death Penalty Davison M. Douglas
  • Religious Organizations and the Death Penalty Robert F. Drinan
  • Capital Punishments and Religious Arguments: An Intermediate Approach Samuel J. Levine
  • Religious Neutrality and the Death Penalty Arnold H. Loewy
  • The Role of Organized Religions in Changing Death Penalty Debates Michael L. Radelet
  • Transcript of Speech on Religions's Role in the Administration of the Death Penalty Pat Robertson
  • Islam and the Death Penalty William A. Schabas
  • Punishment at all Costs: On Religion, Convicting the Innocent, and Supporting the Death Penalty Robert L. Young

    Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty Thomas C. Berg

    Mother Teresa and the Death Penalty Father John Dear, SJ

    Do Circumstances Ever Justify Capital Punishment? Peter Black

    Crime and Punishment Donald X. Burt, OSA

    To Abolish Capital Punishement Antonio Beristain

    Community for a "Dead Man" Joe Nangle, OFM

    To Die For: The death penalty is nothing more than revenge Carol Fennelly

    Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair: Lawyers push for end to executions John Cole Vodicka

    An Eye for an Eye? the Morality of Punishment Christopher Townsend

    Hard Evidence: Hearing the facts about the death penalty Julie Polter

    Punishing Evildoers with the Sword: Further Discussion? Robert Holyer

    Leaven of Forgiveness: Murder victims' families stand against the death penalty Mary Sue Penn

    Capital Punishment John Langan

    Capital Punishment: A Christian View and Biblical Perspective Kerby Anderson

    Capital Punishment John Willis in the 1911 Catholic encyclopedia

    Is Capital Punishment Sanctioned by Divine Authority? Church of Christ minister Alexander Campbell, 1846

    Thomas Aquinas: On Murder Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 64

    Death Penalty Articles from Salt of the Earth


    Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty

    Helen Prejean, CSJ Author of "Dead Man Walking"

    Catholics Against Capital Punishment

    Stat house: Capital Punishment

    California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty

    Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty

    Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989), entered into force July 11, 1991

    Ethics Updates: Punishment and the Death Penalty

  • Broken links? Suggestions?

    Email webmaster Gerald Darring