The following article, written by CMN’s Executive Director Karen Clifton and Director for Catholic State Network and Organizations Cathy Jarboe, was published in Lifelines: News from the National Coalition to End the Death Penalty (Issue Number 109, Spring 2013).
Since the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) was first established in 2009, it has been a partner with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The purpose of CMN is to respond to the challenge of the U.S. Bishops’ Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty as it was articulated their 2005 statement, “A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.”
Late in the summer of 2008, veteran proponents of death penalty repeal gathered in Washington, D.C., to consider how to engage lay American Catholics in the Bishops’ campaign. Among them were Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, and leaders from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, State Catholic Conferences, the National Coalition, Death Penalty Information Center, Equal Justice USA, murder victims’ organizations, and major national Catholic and secular groups.
As a result of this meeting, CMN was formed to educate Catholics on the Church’s death penalty teaching through State Catholic Conferences, diocesan offices, and other Catholic organizations and institutions. With the involvement of Vicki Schieber, a leader of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, the idea of restorative justice became an integral part of CMN’s work.
The goal of CMN is to work alongside National Coalition affiliate groups and the State Catholic Conference to involve Catholics in faith-based advocacy work. CMN has worked to engage Catholics in the Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and California abolition campaigns. The organization customizes some of its educational materials to relate specifically to states where legislative action is taking place – for example, Talking Points on the Death Penalty for Maryland. Many other state-specific talking points are available in Spanish and English on the CMN website.
This article was featured in CMN’s May 2013 Newsletter.