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Insights: Catholics and the Death Penalty, Gov. Brown Acts on Bills

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September 30, 2016

In this edition:

  • Catholics and the Death Penalty
  • Governor Brown Acts on Bills as Signing Period Ends Today
  • Cardinal Dolan Launches 2016-2017 Program with Respect Life Month Statement
  • Bishop Vann Organizes Relief Benefit for People of Amatrice, Italy

Catholics and the Death Penalty

Our support to end the use of the death penalty is also rooted in our unshakeable resolve to accompany and support all victims of crime.   They suffer the very painful consequences of criminal acts.  With the violent loss of a loved one, a sword has pierced their heart.   Their enduring anguish is not addressed by the state-sanctioned perpetuation of the culture of death.  Statement of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops

In a newly released video, Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, whose husband was murdered, cannot imagine Jesus consenting to the execution of the assailant.  Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin who oversaw four executions during her tenure, says she and her staff never felt society was safer after the execution.

Rita Chairez, lost two of her brothers and other relatives, explains how her own mother taught her how to forgive.  And Ron Briggs, former death penalty advocate, explains how he changed his mind and self-describes himself as a “crusader” against capital punishment.

The video – commissioned by the California Catholic Conference and the Catholic Mobilizing Network – examines Catholic teaching through the eyes of victims and those most closely impacted by the death penalty in California.  Healing is central to the Catholic approach to criminal justice, but the journey can sometimes be hard.  The people in this video are still on this journey but their progress has been remarkable.

Check out our other resources on ending the use of the death penalty, including a new California Fact Sheet compiled by the CMN.

Governor Brown Acts on Bills as Signing Period Ends Today

Today is the last day for Governor Brown to sign or veto any bill passed this legislative session, and he has been busy putting his signature or veto stamp to legislation all week.

On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed on AB 2590, directing the state prison system to add rehabilitation and restorative justice principles to punishment as part of their mission statement. 

This is a tremendous victory for restorative justice and culmination of much work by the California Catholic Conference, other faith-based groups and members of the Catholic Legislative Network. Thank you to all who played a significant role by writing letters and emails get this bill passed.  This is a substantial step for restorative justice principles to be put into practice in California.

Earlier this week, Governor Brown vetoed SB 1157, the bill that would have required prisons to retain in-person visitations.  Despite the result, it is encouraged that the Governor shared his concern that lack of in-person visits could “have a negative impact on rehabilitative goals” and has directed the Board of State and Community Corrections to explore ways to address the issue.

The Governor also signed AB 1789 and AB 1567, which will continue to provide school supplies and after school activities for foster children.

Still pending is AB 1671, which would incriminate individuals who produce recordings like those that exposed Planned Parenthood last summer.   You can still urge him to veto this bill – opposed by both the California Catholic Conference and the ACLU – by clicking here.

All bills that aren’t either signed or vetoed by tonight’s midnight deadline will automatically become law.

Cardinal Dolan Launches 2016-2017 Program with Respect Life Month Statement

WASHINGTON—In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2016, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York called for all human life to be "cherished and protected." Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The Cardinal's statement launches the year-long Respect Life Program (, which explores the theme, "Moved by Mercy." As Pope Francis said in calling for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, "We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us."

Cardinal Dolan emphasized the need to protect human life at every stage. "From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection."

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Bishop Vann Organizes Relief Benefit for People of Amatrice, Italy

On August 24, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Central Italy, causing buildings to collapse and roofs to fall as people slept. The town of Amatrice was among the cities hardest-hit.  Nearly 300 were killed and almost as many were hospitalized with serious injuries. Thousands are now displaced; their homes destroyed. The entire town must be rebuilt.

To help the town of Amatrice recover, the Diocese of Orange is hosting an Earthquake Relief event on Friday evening, Oc.t. 14, at the beautiful Christ Cathedral. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to Catholic Relief Services, the organization that is providing resources to the earthquake-stricken region.

Leading the Earthquake Relief event are Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann and L.A. Archbishop Jose Gomez, as we all as other prelates, who are calling on the faithful to attend the fundraiser that will ultimately bring relief to those suffering in an around Amatrice.

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