Vatican City

Papal and Vatican Statements

The Holy See (the Vatican) advocates on behalf of all life, including the condemned. Below is a list of recent papal statements relating to Catholic teaching on the death penalty. 

More Papal and Vatican Statements

Read the death penalty section of "Fratelli Tutti," the latest papal encyclical released by Pope Francis on the subject of fraternity and social friendship.

After an audience with Pope Francis earlier this year, and following his approval, the Vatican’s CDF says it has made changes to the CCC on the death penalty according to which capital punishment is inadmissible.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, while speaking on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis chose to make an unequivocal statement: The death penalty... "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel" and that it "heavily wounds human dignity."

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Statements

In the Catholic Church in the United States, pastoral statements are offered by individual bishops in: dioceses, state Catholic conferences, regional synods, or the national conference (USCCB). In the case of the death penalty, U.S. bishops have been strong anti-death penalty advocates.

More United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Statements

U.S. Bishops respond to the July 1, 2021 announcement of the Justice Department's moratorium on federal executions.

U.S. Bishop Chairmen responds to the recent Supreme Court Ruling on the case of Ramirez v. Collier

WASHINGTON — With more federal executions scheduled in December and January, two bishop chairmen call on the Administration to recall God’s mercy during Advent.

In advance of a new wave of federal executions in November 2020, two bishop chairmen issued a statement calling on the Trump administration to act as a witness to the dignity of all human life.

Bishops Statements

In the Catholic Church in the United States, pastoral statements are offered by individual bishops in particular dioceses, state Catholic conferences of bishops, regional synods of bishops, or the national conference (USCCB) when seeking to apply universal church teaching to particular circumstances or issues. In the case of the death penalty, U.S. bishops have often been strong anti-death penalty advocates for persons sentenced to be executed.  The list below includes more recent pastoral and state conference statements relating to Catholic teaching on the death penalty and its application to particular laws and state-sponsored executions.

More Bishops Statements

Retired Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted speaks against the death penalty and reminds people that we must pray for the healing of all those affected by the crimes, while also upholding human life and dignity.

Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City responds to Oklahoma state leaders upholding the constitutionality of lethal injection, which paves the way for numerous executions to take place in Oklahoma.

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops ask the Texas state leaders to spare the life of Melissa Lucio.

Bishops from the Catholic Conference of Ohio issue a statement supporting Ohio SB 103, which would abolish Ohio's death penalty.

The Arizona Catholic Conference of Bishops respond to the scheduled execution date of Frank Atwood, and urge people to join them in praying for his soul and for an end to the death penalty.

Texas Bishops from the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops respond to the March 23 Supreme Court decision to allow John Ramirez to have his pastor pray and lay hands over him during his execution.

Religious Orders Statements

Religious communities of women and men are active in efforts to abolish the death penalty. Below you will find a growing number of statements from different congregations who view the death penalty as incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are you a member of a religious community? Has your community issued a statement on the death penalty which is not listed here? We would love to share it! Please contact CMN and provide us the information below:

  • A paragraph about your community and its mission, including what state(s) you are located in
  • Your statement
  • A link to your website’s death penalty page (if you have one), or a link to your website (homepage)

More Religious Orders Statements

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary in the Woods, Indiana reside just five miles away from the facility where federal executions take place. The Sisters issued this statement in response to the July 25, 2019 decision to resume federal executions after a 16 year moratorium.

As women committed to justice, taught by the example of Jesus in the Gospels and by the Catholic Church, we reverence all life. In response to these teachings we, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Springfield, Massachusetts, are opposed to using the death penalty as a punishment for crime.

We are committed to being instruments through which love, justice, and peace shape our nation and our world. We respect and support Pope John Paul ll’s appeal “for a consensus to end the death penalty which is both cruel and unnecessary.” We endorse ending the death penalty in conjunction with the mission and ministry of the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

Compelled by the Gospel message and challenged by our Foundress, Marie Esther Blondin, whose vision mandates us to bring all to the fullness of life, we, the Sisters of Saint Anne of the United States oppose the death penalty.