Fr. Stephen Barber, S.J., served in the chaplain’s office of San Quentin State Prison from 1996 to 2011, the last eight years as the full-time pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel on the prison grounds. He served at San Quentin during the last three executions in California. He is now Director of Cura Personalis, at Loyola High School, Los Angeles, and a minister to the Jesuit community at the school. In light of the death penalty moratorium announced by Governor Gavin Newsom last week, Fr. Barber offers the following reflection:
Learn More About Reverence for Life
End of Life
- To Live Each Day with Dignity
- Death With Dignity and the Gift of Palliative Care
- USCCB Physcian-Assisted Suicide Page
Letters & Statements
Stem Cell Research
Life Issues Forum
For on-going information on Respect Life issues, read the Life Issues Forum bi-weekly columns from the USCCB. (Click here.)
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.
More information and resources
- The Gospel of Life and Capital Punishment
- Pope Francis Speaks About the Death Penalty
- Archbishop José Gomez on the Death Penalty (English and Spanish video)
- Archbishop Salvatore J. Condileone Statement (English and Spanish)
- California Fact Sheet from Catholic Mobilizing Network
- Renewing Our Call to End the Death Penalty - Bulletin Insert (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
- Papal Quotes on Ending the Death Penalty (in English & Spanish)
- Bulletin Announcements on Ending the Death Penalty (En Español)
Elsewhere on www.cacatholic.org...
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, in whose Archdiocese the death chamber is located, has issued the following statement on behalf of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops regarding the declaration of a moratorium on executions by California Governor Gavin Newsom:
Representative from Catholic and other organizations opposed to the death penalty delivered nearly six thousand letters to Governor Jerry Brown today asking him to commute the sentences of the hundreds of men and women on death row before he leaves office.
The following statement is from Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, on the news today that Pope Francis has directed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church now teach that the death penalty is “inadmissible”:
Every year, near the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, people of faith around the United States gather to witness for life. Several dioceses in California are planning major events or participating with other like-minded groups to promote a reverence for life:
One Life LA – Los Angeles, Saturday, January 20, 2018
Walk for Life West Coast – San Francisco, Saturday, January 27, 2018
In an odd and unexplained rule change proposal, California may ban chaplains from meeting with death row prisoners nearer than three hours before their scheduled execution.
The California Department of Corrections (CDCR) is engaged in a detailed revision of its procedures for ending the lives of prisoners sentenced to death. The elaborate set of rules specifies in minute detail death drug formulation, testing, staff training, protocols and numerous other aspects of executions.
The following statement was released by Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops:
“Yesterday’s elections were the culmination of a long and contentious election season marked by cynicism and alienation. Nevertheless, California’s voters fulfilled their civic duty and placed their votes. The democratic process, once again, demonstrates that the will of the people is sovereign.
The initiative to eliminate the use of California’s death penalty law has officially qualified for this November’s ballot.
The measure to revoke capital punishment in the state collected almost 405,000 signatures – well above the 365,000 verifiable signatures required for certification.
California, the most populous state in the country, has the largest population of death row inmates. Repealing the law would change the death sentences of almost 750 convicted inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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.