October is designated as Respect Life Month by the Church. We belong to a tradition that believes ALL people have dignity and the right to life no matter what they might have done. This has been reiterated by past popes and our current Pope Francis.
"How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the cross, if only for a moment. There, we can see God's reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death.” - Pope Francis, Sept 7, 2013
Please take time this October to further your education on life issues, particularly on those you may find challenging, as the death penalty is for many Catholics. Feel free to join CMN and the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies in Washington, D.C., on November 9th for a conference on "Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty." It is an opportunity to hear professors and authors of the book by the same name from Mount St. Mary’s University as well as scholars from The Catholic University of America educate us on the Church’s progression of moral thought and teaching on the death penalty through a restorative lens. Details below.
In this September 2013 newsletter you will find:
Thank you for supporting our work and have a blessed month.
WHERE JUSTICE AND MERCY MEET: CATHOLIC OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY CONFERENCE - NOVEMBER 9, 2013 - WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty and the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. are co-sponsoring a national conference entitled “Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty.” Everyone is welcome!
CMN is excited to promote the latest in the progression of the Church’s teaching on the pro-life issue of the death penalty. Pope John Paul II made it absolutely clear that we as Catholics are called to preserve life and to act to end the use of the death penalty. Pope Benedict XVI expanded on this, urging us to engage on the issue in our efforts to impact public policy. At the World Congress Against the Death Penalty held in Madrid in June, Pope Francis reiterated the Holy See’s support for “the abolition of the death penalty.”
CMN was founded to educate Catholics on the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and restorative justice and to prepare Catholics for informed involvement in campaigns to pass death penalty reform and repeal legislation. CMN’s Mount St. Mary’s University office, staffed by Vicki Schieber, worked in collaboration with the faculty on the just-published book, “Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty.”
Our conference on November 9th will feature panel discussions with Mount Saint Mary’s University and Catholic University professors and authors discussing their work and how Catholic teaching has evolved on the issue. We will discuss where we stand today, and how Catholics are leading in the winning campaign to end the death penalty in the United States through public policy advocacy. Among the presenters will be CMN’s Vicki Schieber, and a keynote address by our founder and noted Catholic anti-death penalty advocate Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ.
All are welcome to attend this event, which will be hosted at the Columbus School of Law on the Catholic University campus. Additional supporters for the event include the Sant’Egidio Community of Washington, D.C. and the Franciscan Action Network.
To register for this FREE event, complete the online registration form provided by IPR.
To help spread the word, please download and share this flyer about the event.
You may also purchase the book of the same name here.
RESPECT LIFE MONTH & ADVENT RESOURCES
Are you a church leader who will be participating in the observation of Respect Life Month in October? Or are you an engaged church member who wants to respond to the Church’s call to renew your personal commitment to defend all human life? Our resources can help you prepare for engaging as a parish community in discussions and celebrations on the sanctity of all life:
- Looking for homily resources and inspiration? Visit our website and access several examples of homilies written about the death penalty by practicing priests and deacons (look below the “Prayers” section).
- Our booklet - Renewing the Culture of Life: The Death Penalty, Restorative Justice and Catholic Social Teaching - shares Church teaching against the death penalty referencing recent papal statements and the Scriptures. It is a great resource for distributing after Mass or at pro-life exhibit tables and is available in English and Spanish. You may order these via our mail / fax form here. CMN also has prayer cards (English and Spanish) and prayer vigils.
- Share our Spanish language podcasts – 2- to 3-minute educational pieces – in your communities or with your local Catholic Spanish radio station. Exoneree Juan Melendez also shares his powerful story in Spanish in this video.
- Preparing for Advent? We have short reflections on the Scriptures which can be used for reflections and homilies.
OHIOANS TO STOP EXECUTIONS MARKS 25TH YEAR WITH SIGNS OF HOPE
By Kevin Werner, OTSE Executive Director and Allison Smith, OTSE Director of Communication and Development
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Ohioans to Stop Executions. It has been a pivotal year in terms of building momentum toward ending the death penalty in Ohio. The state Supreme Court Joint Task Force currently examining the death penalty will complete its work by the end of this year and make some critical recommendations to the legislature, such as limiting crimes eligible for the death penalty and the creation of a Racial Justice Act. These efforts come as new and significant voices have challenged the status quo of the death penalty in the state.
OHIO CATHOLICS ENCOURAGED TO JOIN STATE EFFORT TO END THE DEATH PENALTY
Bob Stoughton has been a leader of the Miami Valley chapter of OTSE for the last seven years and has been working closely with the CMN team for the last two. As a practicing Catholic and a member of the national Marianist Social Justice Collaborative Anti-Death Penalty Issue Team, Bob has been able to bring important resources to the Dayton area to support the work of his Miami Valley chapter of OTSE, including a panel discussion with an exoneree from Ohio’s Death Row and a workshop from CMN’s Executive Director Karen Clifton. He also represented CMN at the 2012 OTSE statewide conference.
If you live near the Greater Dayton area of Ohio, join the Miami Valley chapter for their next meeting on Wednesday, September 18 in the Moeddel Room of the Pilarczyk Center at 1436 Needmore Road, Dayton, Ohio. There will be a potluck supper at 5 p.m. and then the business meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Local defense attorney Mark Tuss, who has experience with death penalty appeals, will be the guest speaker. Other agenda items will include plans for a vigil on September 24, the evening before the scheduled execution of Harry Mitts. For more information about the Miami Valley chapter of OTSE or to get in contact with other OTSE chapters, please contact Bob Stoughton by e-mail.
For more information on Ohio efforts to end the death penalty, please visit our Ohio page.
CMN MATCHING GRANT ENCOURAGES $50K SUSTAINING MEMBERS DRIVE
Good news! Right now, every dollar donated by an individual supporter will be matched by CSJ ministries. So $5 becomes $10. $50 becomes $100. $500 becomes $1000. Please click here now to help the Catholic Mobilizing Network thrive!
Our major sponsor, the Congregation of St. Joseph Ministries, has challenged CMN to become more self-sustaining so that we can provide even more effective resources and leadership to Catholics working to respect life by ending the death penalty.
We’ve set a goal: $50,000 & 100 Sustaining Members by December 31st!
To help CMN build a base of individual and parish level support, the Congregation of St Joseph Ministries has offered us a matching challenge grant of $50,000. In order to receive this money, we must raise $50,000 from individuals and allies by the end of December in order to put that full $100,000 to use in 2014.
As part of this effort, we want to build a sustaining network of more than 100 monthly donors who each give at least $5 every month. We have exactly one monthly donor today - a friend who last month signed up to give $35 every month! Here’s what Deacon Rob Ward wrote when he told us why he decided to make CMN a part of his tithe every month:
"I’m simply someone who recognizes the dignity of all human beings no matter who they are or what they have done. The death penalty is a definite “life” issue that many pro-life persons do not consider. Our faith teaches us that restorative justice is what we should all strive for. It brings us back into proper relation with each other. I contribute to the Catholic Mobilizing Network to help inform people about the injustice of the death penalty and to do what we as Catholics are called to do: Engage in the effort to change public policy so that all life is respected."
The campaign has already taken off! As of this morning, we’ve raised nearly 2% of our goal from individuals who have given anywhere from $5 to $300. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s only a prelude to today, when we officially launch this campaign.
Please read more and consider the different ways you can contribute to this important effort.
You can click here to make a donation to the challenge grant campaign right now.
"DEAD MAN WALKING" ANNIVERSARY RESOURCES FOR COMMUNITIES AND TEACHERS
As the school year begins and new programs launch in libraries and community centers, we invite you to foster conversations about the death penalty utilizing the book Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ.
There are a number of helpful and free resources for engaging students, neighbors, and peers in conversation.
September 21-22: Sant’Egidio Death Penalty Workshop (Washington, DC)
Anne Feczko, CMN’s program manager, will be representing CMN at a Death Penalty Workshop held by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The Community of Sant’Egidio began in Rome in 1968 and has been in the United States since 1990. Today it is a movement consisting of over 40,000 Catholic laypeople in more than 60 countries throughout the world.
October 6-11: Diocese of Denver Death Penalty Workshops (Denver, Colorado)
CMN’s Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi will be visiting the Diocese of Denver to provide workshops on the death penalty and to speak with local media outlets about the work of the Catholic community to protect human life and dignity.
October 11: Dead Man Walking Reading and Keynote by Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ (Spokane, WA)
Author, anti-death penalty advocate and CMN speaker Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, whose bond with a condemned man was chronicled in her book Dead Man Walking, will offer a keynote address in the Globe Room at Gonzaga University from 7-9 p.m. This free event, which is open to the public, is presented by the Gonzaga University Fellowship of Peace.
October 11-13: World Day Against the Death Penalty Conference (Indianapolis, IN)
CMN will be sponsoring and participating in the Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing “World Day Against the Death Penalty Conference.” Those who attend can participate in workshops and training sessions taught by leading organizations working to end the death penalty and learn skills to work towards this goal. Attendees can also hear testimony from those directly affected by the death penalty, such as murder victims’ family members and death row exonerees, and participate in fellowship and networking activities. For more information and to register, view the conference website.
October 25-26: University of Dallas Ministry Conference (Irving, TX)
CMN’s Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi will be exhibiting at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference. At the Conference, entitled “Walking Together in Faith,” speakers will address relevant topics of faith, catechesis, education, theology, prayer and ministry. Conference participants can attend ministry-specific breakout sessions, participate in Mass and prayer services, peruse the exhibitions, admire the liturgical art display, and listen to Christian musical performances. To register, visit their website.
November 9: Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty Conference (Washington, DC)
View additional information about this event elsewhere in this newsletter.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out our full Calendar of Events
Ohio: If you live near the Greater Dayton area of Ohio, join the OTSE Miami Vally Chapter for their next meeting on Wednesday, September 18 in the Moeddel Room of the Pilarczyk Center at 1436 Needmore Road, Dayton, Ohio. There will be a potluck supper at 5 p.m. and a business meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Local defense attorney Mark Tuss, who has experience with death penalty appeals, will be the guest speaker. Other agenda items will include plans for a vigil on September 24, the evening before the scheduled execution of Harry Mitts. For more information about the Miami Valley chapter of OTSE or to get in contact with other OTSE chapters, please contact Bob Stoughton by e-mail.
Maryland: Maryland Citizens Against State Executions will host victory celebrations to acknowledge the successful end of the death penalty in Maryland. The first event will be held on September 25 at 7 p.m. at Saint Camillus Catholic Church, 1600 St. Camillus Drive, Silver Spring. The second event will be held on October 16 at 7 p.m. at the NAACP National Headquarters with NAACP National President Ben Jealous at 4805 Mt. Hope Drive, Baltimore. Both events are free and open to the public.
South Dakota: The ninth annual South Dakota Pax Christi Peace Conference September 28 will feature keynote speaker, Marie Dennis, President of Pax Christi International and Ambassador of Pax Christi USA. There will be a “Readers Rendition of Dead Man Walking” to introduce South Dakotans for Alternatives to Death Penalty, presented by Deacon Denny Davis. The event is open to the public and all those interested in peace and justice are encouraged to attend. For more information or to register, contact Sr. Kay O’Neil by e-mail or by phone at (507) 665-6135.
Florida: Mr. Juan Melendez is a passionate speaker who spent nearly 18 years on Florida's death row for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Melendez will be speaking at Stetson Law School in Gulfport, Fla., on October 9 and is available for other presentations in the area between October 6 and 13. If you are interested in having Juan speak at your parish or organization in Florida, please contact Judi Caruso, attorney and activist, by e-mail or by phone at (505) 362-1784.
If you have an event that your local Catholic organization is presenting or sponsoring on the death penalty or on a restorative justice topic and you would like it to appear in our CMN newsletter, please send us the relevant information, including flyers and complete descriptions of the event at least four weeks in advance. CMN may edit or choose not to publish any submission.