By Eddie Guers, Program Assistant
Each year during Holy Week, I am reminded of a time when I was young and first starting to understand the Stations of the Cross and Jesus’ execution. I remember feeling angry and confused. How could everyone just stand by and let Jesus suffer like that? Why didn’t more people in the crowd step forward to help, like St. Veronica? I used to imagine that if I was there in that crowd, I could have done something small to relieve Jesus’ pain.
We may not be able to assist Jesus with his physical cross, but like the bystanders in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, today we are faced with a truly horrible sight: the deeply flawed American capital punishment system. Since 1973, 144 people have been exonerated from death row. In that same period, 34 states have executed a total of 1,375 individuals. The marginalized, poor, and relatively powerless are statistically more likely to be sentenced to death. Our system is unfair and prone to error, and if we do nothing to fight against it, we are no better than those idle witnesses to Jesus’ death.
Ending the death penalty will not be an easy task, but as St. Veronica showed us when she wiped the face of Jesus, sometimes the smallest gesture can make a world of difference. This Holy Week, consider following her example and giving a recurring donation to the Catholic Mobilizing Network. Any gift – large or small – will significantly aid our fight against the death penalty. Whatever donation you can afford will be a true testament to the compassion and respect for the dignity of life that God asks of all of us each Lenten season.
This article first appeared in the April 2014 CMN Newsletter.