Iowa’s Bishops make Statement Against the Death Penalty

In 1998, the Bishops of Iowa made a public statement regarding their opposition to the death penalty because, at that time, the Iowa legislature was debating a bill intended to reinstate the death penalty. A section of the Bishops’ text is read here:

“We speak in opposition to the death penalty and its possible reinstatement in Iowa. We challenge the people of Iowa, especially our own Catholic faithful, to examine the issue of capital punishment in the light of basic moral and religious values. After further review and in light of current discussions and initiatives, we speak more strongly than ever against the death penalty. We dare to take this position and we raise this challenge because of our commitment to a consistent ethic of life, by which we wish to give unambiguous witness to the sacredness of every human life from conception through natural death. We proclaim the good news that no person is beyond the redemptive mercy of God.

The United States Catholic Conference, responding to the situation in our country, has for more than 30 years opposed the use of capital punishment. The Iowa Catholic Conference hereby reaffirms that position. We oppose the death penalty in any form, even a “limited” death penalty.

We oppose reinstatement of the death penalty to send a message that we can break the cycle of violence, that we need not take life for life.

We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to manifest our belief in the unique worth and dignity of each person, made in the image and likeness of God.

We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to give further testimony of our conviction that God is indeed the Lord of life.

We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to follow the example of Jesus, who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice.

We urge our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as all people of good will, to remember the teachings of Jesus, who called us to be reconciled with those who have injured us (Mt. 5:43-45) and to pray for forgiveness for our sins “as we forgive those who have sinned against us” (Mt. 6:12). We call on you to contemplate the crucified Christ who sent us the supreme example of forgiveness and of the triumph of compassionate love.”

To see the full text, click here