We, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur of the California Province, together with a number of Associaties and co-workers, join with the Catholic Bishops of the United States in calling for the abolition of the death penalty. With them we believe that “the death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defind life by taking life.” (US Catholic Converence Administrative Committee. 3/24/99) “Legalized” killing is killing nonetheless. As a violation of the sacredness and dignity of human life it is morally untenable and an inappropriate response to the violence in our society.
We are concerned about the high percentage of those on death row who are poor people or people of color. We believe in justice and therefore in punishment, short of capital punishment, for one who takes another’s life; but we also believe in mercy, the possibility of forgiveness and personal redemption.
As followers of Christ, who proclaimed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:24) we commit ourselves to the challenging task of working to abolish capital punishment and of building peace in our troubled communities.