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California bishops support abolition of death penalty

Posted on: October 17, 2016 6:19 PM
This lethal injection room in San Quentin prison has never been used since it was completed in 2010. It will become obsolete if a state-wide referendum abolishes the death penalty in November.
Photo Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Bishops from all six Episcopal dioceses in California have lent their support to moves to abolish the death penalty. A state-wide referendum on whether the death penalty should be abolished in California will take place in November. If passed, the proposed amendment – known as Proposition 62 – would replace the death penalty with a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment for murder.

In a joint statement, the bishops of Northern California, California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, and San Diego described the vote as a “profound moral choice.”

They say: “While we acknowledge that this may be an issue on which reasonable people of good faith might disagree, we want to reaffirm emphatically our Church’s opposition to the death penalty, a position first officially stated by our General Convention in 1958.

Then, and in subsequent statements, the Episcopal Church has based its opposition to the death penalty in our understanding of God’s justice, our regard for the sacredness of human life, our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, our desire to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and our mission to continue Christ’s work of reconciliation in this world.

“It is from this position of faith that our Church has repeatedly called upon all its members “to work actively to abolish the death penalty in their states.” In 2012, when a proposition was put before California voters for the repeal of the death penalty, the Episcopal bishops issued this same call. We now repeat that call, and ask for your support of Proposition 62.

“We also wish to acknowledge with grateful hearts all our fellow citizens, people of many different religious commitments, or of no religion, who are working to accomplish this goal. We pray that our combined efforts will at long last result in the end of the death penalty in California, and we pray God’s blessing upon all.”

The statement was signed by Bishops Barry Beisner (Northern California), Marc Andrus (California), Mary Gray-Reeves (El Camino Real), David Rice (San Joaquin), J Jon Bruno and Diane Jardine Bruce (Los Angeles) and James Mathes (San Diego).