California Catholic Bishops Endorse SAFE California Campaign to Replace Death Penalty With Life Without Parole

Submitted to the WPR

Former San Quentin Warden and Sister Helen Prejean of “Dead Man Walking” Applaud Bishops

The SAFE California campaign applauded the Catholic Bishops of California Thursday for their endorsement of the campaign to replace California’s broken and costly death penalty with a penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

“I am pleased to welcome California’s Catholic Bishops and congregations as they make common cause with the families of murder victims, law enforcement and the wrongfully convicted in support of replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment with no chance of parole,” said Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin and a lead supporter of SAFE California. “There is no better time to join together to promote savings, accountability and full enforcement of the law.”

The Catholic Bishops’ support for SAFE California’s statewide signature gathering effort was reported Wednesday. In their statement they say:

“As Catholics, we hold human life as sacred.  In the exercise of justice, this principle must prevail in the manner we treat one another, even for those who have done grave harm.  Justice requires proportionate and effective means in the protection of society.  As citizens, we find the use of the death penalty unnecessary, impractical and expensive.”

Sister Helen Prejean, of Dead Man Walking fame, added: “I have devoted my life to promoting a national dialogue on the death penalty inside and outside the Catholic Church. The California Bishops’ bold and early statement of support for the SAFE California campaign is heartening. I hope they will expend vigorous and creative spiritual energy to galvanize Catholics in the pews to roll up their sleeves and work in the campaign.”

Sister Prejean noted that Catholics “couldn’t ask for a clearer mandate for action” than that recently given by Pope Benedict XVI past November when he urged Catholics to persuade politicians and legislators to eliminate the death penalty and to continue “the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.” ■

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