The Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) endeavors to take up the challenge of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Campaign To End the Use of the Death Penalty” (A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, 2005).
Late in the summer of 2008, anti-death penalty advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. to consider how best to engage lay American Catholics in the bishops’ campaign. Among them were Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, and leadership from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, the Franciscan Action Network, the Maryland Catholic Conference, Catholics Against Capital Punishment, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, the National Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, Equal Justice USA, and New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
The group discerned that a national Catholic organization should be created to inform and facilitate the efforts to end the use of the death penalty by state Catholic conferences, diocesan offices, and other Catholic organizations and institutions. Among other services, the new organization would provide resource materials and education programs (in English and Spanish), workshops, speakers for conferences and special events, and a website with downloadable media.
Due to the early involvement of Vicki Schieber, a nationally recognized spokesperson for Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, it was also determined that restorative justice, which seeks to repair the harm caused by violence, should be integral to CMN’s work.
CMN was formally launched on January 25, 2009.
Numbering more than 69 million, Catholics comprise about 22 percent of our nation’s 324 million citizens. CMN believes that Catholics can make a difference, and seeks to educate Catholics on Church’s death-penalty teaching to prepare them for informed involvement in the public debate to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice.