Sunday, January 13, 2013
by Sister Helen Prejean
Can it possibly be happening? After years of relentless dialogue on the death penalty among Catholics in the United States, are we at last beginning to see signs that Catholics are becoming a significant moral force in efforts to abolish state-sanctioned death? Yes! I see it and rejoice.
For the last 34 years I have been engaged in this dialogue—ever since I walked out of Louisiana’s killing chamber in the early morning hours of April 5, 1984, after seeing a man strapped down and killed in front of my eyes.
Now, at last, there are signs of hope. As support for the death penalty has steadily declined in the United States in recent years, Catholic support has dropped even more significantly. According to the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of Americans—and a higher proportion of Catholics, 80 percent—supported the death penalty in 1996. By 2011, however, those numbers had fallen to 62 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Now Catholics support the death penalty at a lower rate than the general population.
[Read the rest here.]