Founded in 1921, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart trace their spiritual roots to the faith and charism of St. Marguerite d’Youville, the Mother of Universal Charity. For many years, Grey Nuns served in elementary and secondary education, nursing, and in caring for orphans. Like their foundress, they reach out to the poor, the young and the elderly, the ill, and the most marginalized members of society.
Death Penalty Statement (2000)
We, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, join our voices with our sisters and brothers from around the world in denouncing the use of the death penalty.
As Catholic religious sisters, called by God to be co-creators of our world and to continue the reconciling work of Christ in our times,” (GNSH Constitutions #31), we are committed to a consistent life ethic, which means reverence for all of life. We share the concern of believers at home and abroad about the multiple threats to life and human dignity in today’s world, including abortion, poverty, war, the arms race, racism, capital punishment, and euthanasia.
With the bishops of the United States, we believe that our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each and every human life, including the lives of those who fail to show that respect for others. (United States Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, “Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics,” 1998.)
We feel deep compassion for the families and loved ones of victims of violent crimes and we acknowledge the importance of addressing their needs. We recognize the violent nature of the world in which we live and we know that society must protect itself against individuals who have proven to be dangerous. We support the development of ways to address the roots of violence. However, we believe, as Cardinal Roger Mahoney has stated, that the death penalty perpetuates a cycle of violence that, in the end, diminishes all of us. Alternatively, incarceration, properly applied, could effectively alter the cycle of violence.
We call upon the Sisters of our congregation, our GNSH Associates, those associated with us in ministry, and our church and civic leaders to take appropriate nonviolent actions for the elimination of state sanctioned death and to put forth every effort to recognize and affirm the dignity of each life.