“Capital punishment vitiates our hearts’ capacity for mercy and love,” the bishops write, noting that “the death penalty not only does not correspond to the common good, it actually does great harm to it.”
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. Often the Holy See (the Vatican) has also advocated on behalf of the condemned. The list below includes more recent papal and episcopal statements relating to Catholic teaching on the death penalty and its application to particular laws and state-sponsored executions.