“The challenges brought by COVID-19 are unprecedented. We came together as a Catholic community to voice our collective solidarity with individuals living and working behind bars who are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic in wholly unique ways.”

“Our nation has gone to great lengths to save lives and prevent unnecessary loss of life during the COVID-19 crisis. It is tragically contradictory that Missouri put a man to death amidst the herculean efforts we see daily to protect life. This execution was wrong-headed and unconscionable.” 

"When he was released from prison, Dewayne said, 'I have no hate in my heart for what they did to me.'"

CMN Board Chair Mary Novak offers a reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter that illuminates restorative justice practices with the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

A 37-year career law enforcement officer learns to oppose capital punishment and begins actively speaking out against the death penalty.

gavel

Get the latest death penalty and criminal justice updates from April 2020, including developments in federal death penalty litigation, a Supreme Court ruling eliminating non-unanimous jury verdicts, and the impacts of COVID-19 on death penalty proceedings.

What do restorative practices have to teach us in the midst of a global pandemic?

Today we come together to rejoice, for Jesus has risen from the dead!

"Tonight, we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin, Satan, and death—the three ancient enemies of humankind."

"In each place along the journey of Good Friday, we see Jesus profoundly vulnerable to those around him. And yet, Jesus’ vulnerability is not the same as weakness."

On the first Holy Thursday, Jesus invited his human, fallible followers to sit at his table—and does the same for us today.

If you find yourself searching for a respite from the news during this unsettling time, consider diving into some of CMN's favorite books and movies instead.

This year and next present exciting opportunities for Ohio Catholics to unite and show their support for honoring the dignity of all human life. 

The Passion of Christ vividly reminds us that Jesus left our world as a condemned prisoner. Jesus endured torture and the humiliation of being stripped—not only of his clothes, but also his human dignity. 

An artist on Tennessee's death row shares how he collaborated with his fellow inmates to paint the Stations of the Cross.

What is pressing on our hearts that stops us from seeking redemption? What prevents us from asking for God to make us whole?

The statue of St. Joseph sleeping reminds us that our difficulties are sometimes taken care of in the quiet of the night.

“I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” -John 9:39 

Fr. Rene Robert believed every life was worth saving—even that of his own murderer.

Just as we want to tell our story, get a word in, or share our opinion, so too does God want to talk to us. But we have to give God the chance to speak.

desert sands

"In contrast to those who fall victim to temptation, Jesus’ encounter with temptation only strengthened his resolve."

Ashes smeared into cross

"This outward mark of my faith opened the door to share my personal belief in God’s mercy that heals the sin-sick soul."

It is expected the Colorado will abolish the death penalty in 2020, a long-awaited milestone for the state which has had a governor-imposed ban on executions since 2013.

As the Young Women’s Initiative Coordinator at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, Karlyn Francois shares a story of radical accompaniment within the criminal legal system.

VA State House

The new year started off strong with a number of death penalty bills introduced into state legislatures across the country. Below you’ll find highlights of the legislation Catholic Mobilizing Network is watching closely.

A Chicago community meets to "foster diversity in each circle in order to cultivate the moments of both 'Me too' and 'I never knew.'"

Linda Showman’s journey towards restorative justice ministry has taken several years and varying forms. Now a Project Consultant in the Office of Prison Ministry at the Archdiocese of Portland, Showman has found ways to invite others in her community into an ethic of restoration.

Three conferences on restorative justice have been organized by the students in the Calvin Prison Initiative. Eric Boldiszar – one of these students – shares the faith and inspiration leading him to create these events.

How must have Joseph felt upon learning of Mary’s pregnancy — an unlawful offense for which she could have received the death penalty — instead he decided to follow God’s will for reconciliation.

Take a brief glimpse into our favorite moments of #IFTJ2019:

Esta reflexión de La Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe ilumina nuestra dignidad como hijos de Dios especialmente los que están al margen de la sociedad.

This reflection for The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe identifies the God-given dignity to us all – particularly those society has marginalized.

For the Third Sunday of Advent — Gaudete Sunday — the Scripture readings begin to shift from “the Lord is coming” to “the Lord is at hand.”

The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent call us, God’s children, to live in harmony with one another. This unity can only be achieved through the light of Christ.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we reflect on how we can live and walk as he did.

The chair of the Death Penalty Abolition and Restorative Justice issue team of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative shares how the group built a collective understanding around restorative practices using CMN's small group modules.

"On a chilly morning in Chicago, a dynamic group of Catholic leaders gathered at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) for a deeply enriching four-day Circlekeeper Training..."

Sister Helen Prejean, a longtime champion in the abolition movement, recalls an important encounter with racial issues. Sr. Helen is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. CMN is part of the CSJ Mission Network. 

Scroll through this collection of photos from CMN's 10th Anniversary Celebration held on October 10th, 2019 at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC.

CMN takes part in a delegation to St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Through a mentorship program and Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), the Archdiocese of Dubuque is tackling issues of recidivism and addiction, and fostering strong community ties in the process.

Through a mentorship program and Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), the Archdiocese of Dubuque is tackling issues of recidivism and addiction, and fostering strong community ties in the process.

Marilyn Shankle-Grant provides a courageous testimony as the mother of a death row inmate.

On Thursday, July 25th, the Department of Justice announced it will resume executions at the federal level for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Tracey Tynan, Executive Director at Thrive For Life Prison Project, describes the spiritual growth and relationship building taking place within Thrive's ministry.

(Washington, D.C.) Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, strongly condemns Thursday’s announcement by the Department of Justice to resume the practice of capital punishment at the federal level.

This October, will you including the death penalty in your pro-life conversations? Sign up to be notified when the 2019 Respect Life Toolkit becomes available.

Watch recordings of CMN's most recent webinars, and register to attend Empowering Church Leaders to Address Racism: Continuing the Conversation on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019. 

Steve Kaneb recalls his journey within the anti-death penalty movement. From a new supporter to a respected advocate, Steve's story is one that illustrates a patience for change. He also demonstrates that the best celebration is moving towards the next challenge.

Sr. Pat Thalhuber describes the birth of Stonebridge, a place where members of the St. Paul/Minneapolis communities can come together and where "misunderstandings are reshaped, divisions are bridged, and hope is embraced."

Learn more about New Hampshire's progress on death penalty repeal, and get the latest on death penalty legislation in states throughout the U.S.

While representing a man fighting a death sentence in Texas, Christina Swarns started to experience justice in a new way.

CMN invites you to learn more about restorative justice, using circles in Catholic contexts, and ways to be an agent of restoration in your community. 

Chris and his mother, Pilar

In 2000, I entered the Richard P. LeBlanc Unit, a pre-release correctional facility in Beaumont, Texas, and joined a small group in "Bridges To Life."

Sign up to receive email notifications about new stories, reflections, and ministerial examples shared on the Hope Over Death Blog. Together we can uplift the individuals and communities that are doing the work to transform our broken criminal justice system. 

Jesus is alive! The Word became flesh, dwelt among us, was executed, and rose on the third day. Let’s Gather. Let’s Build. Let’s Rise.

Forgiving When It Feels Impossible

Image: hands holding the body of Christ with a black background

On this first day of the Triduum, we recognize God’s unfailing gift of undeserved, unconditional, and unifying love for us.  This love has the power to embolden every human heart and calls us to do the same. Let us ask for the grace to respond to God’s call to love one another accordingly.

Jesus is alive! The Word became flesh, dwelt among us, was executed, and rose on the third day. Let’s Gather. Let’s Build. Let’s Rise.

"Jesus was very clear, God wants life. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to give us life here and now!"

San Quentin State Prison

On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom made a historic step forward in the death penalty abolition movement by declaring a moratorium on all California executions.

Lent is the Time to Return and Stay

Solemnity of St Joseph

Drawing Inspiration from the "Hidden Life" of St. Joseph

"Responding to the Unraveling"

By: Mario Marazziti
Gavin Newsom, the new governor of California, with a gesture of political courage, has put a stop, perhaps definitively, to executions in the Golden State. On March 13, 2019, signing an official moratorium, he declared the "miserable failure" of a justice that still includes death.

California governor Gavin Newsom announced he will declare a moratorium on the death penalty, making the state one of four in the U.S. currently under governor-imposed execution bans. 

"Our ways are not His ways."

"New Ways of Engaging with the World"

Text: "The fruits of our Lenten labors must be shared with others or we have completely missed the point" -Andy Rivas Image: people holding hands

"The Fruits of Our Lenten Labors"

CMN table at CSMG 2019

2019 got off to a rapid start at CMN. Within a month of the new year, we had pulled together an incredibly successful film screening, our first-ever Restorative Justice Circles Intensive, two dynamic workshops at the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC.

Here's a closer look at everything CMN's been up to this winter.

As stated in the Catechism, we who are members of the Body of Christ are called to "work with determination" for an end to capital punishment. It's an bold and empowering commissioning—but where do we begin? What does "working with determination" look like in practical terms?

Text: Join Our Team! catholicsmobilizing.org/job-openings Image: notebook and pen

This position is a part-time role (25-29 hours per week), based in Washington, DC. The Program Assistant has primary responsibility for supporting all program implementation, administrative management and enhancement of internal systems for Catholic Mobilizing Network.

“Mi alma alaba la grandeza del Señor; mi espíritu se alegra en Dios mi Salvador.” Esta palabras de Mari a su prima Isabel revelan la profundidad de su fe de ella en las promesas de Dios y de Su plan de salvación.

2018 Midterms Elections Results Death Penalty

From governors races to ballot measures, Americans harnessed the power of their voices and their votes in the 2018 Midterms to work toward a more restorative criminal justice system. Here are just a few of the recent victories that point to an end to the death penalty, which is indeed on the horizon.

Kate Grosmaire #HopeOverDeath Speaking Tour Washington DC St. John Paul II National Shrine

For many people, the first moment they hear about restorative justice is a formative one. So formative, that Kate and Deacon Andy Grosmaire recall exactly when and how it occurred.

On this special evening, at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington DC, Kate and Deacon Andy shared how their Catholic faith led them to restorative justice.

On October 11th, just one day after the 2018 World Day Against the Death Penalty, Catholic Mobilizing Network rejoiced at the announcement that Washington's State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. Will this spur action in other states that still have the death penalty?

Catholic Mobilizing Network is gearing up for Respect Life Month! Every October, CMN works with our brothers and sisters in the pews as they raise awareness in their communities about the death penalty as a critical pro-life issue. 

Healing Garden Philadelphia

Restorative justice invites us to cultivate moral imagination, to watch vigilantly for creative ways to heal pain caused by violence and build spaces for transformative encounter to take place. Fr. Paul Morrissey shares how he did this in an unlikely corner of Philadelphia. His reflection on events of the past reminds us of our nation's ongoing struggles for racial justice today.

With his historic revision to the Catechism, Pope Francis gave us a new platform from which to advocate for an end to the death penalty. Now the only question is: how do we use it?

Restorative Justice Mountain Catholic Mobilizing Network

Imagine the criminal justice system as a mountain with restorative justice as the vision at the top. Much is need to move toward that summit, but we cannot get there without abolishing the death penalty.

Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, celebrates today’s revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that, in all cases, the death penalty is “inadmissible” (Revised Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267).

It never fails that over the past twenty-five years since its beginning, Starvin’ for Justice falls on some of the hottest days of the summer. This year was no exception. Despite the unrelenting sun and little shade, activists from across the country withstood the heat outside the Supreme Court to gather petition signatures, hand out pamphlets, and hold banners all in the name of ending the death penalty. Catholic Mobilizing Network was proud to be there with them.

Knowledgeable about foundational restorative practices, DePaul University in Chicago and Georgetown University in Washington, DC developed programs that create transformational encounter amongst incarcerated individuals, traditional students and faculty.

Restorative justice is so drastically different from America's adversarial and retributive approach to justice that it can be difficult to envision another way. It was this dilemma that inspired CMN to develop our small group educational modules. Hear about the impact it had in three pilot groups.

CMN is encouraged as the use and support of the death penalty continues to dwindle. Despite positive trends, there remains an insidious underlying current of attempts to strengthen the death penalty's relevance. This backsliding is a somber reminder of our need to maintain and spread the Church's Pro-Life teaching.

Legislative efforts to end the use of the death penalty in key states have proved active and energized during the first half of 2018.

A Catholic movement for restorative justice is underway.

CMN's Associate Director of Community Engagement, Emma Tacke, reflects on two powerful documentary screenings she attended this month, "Both of these films effectively use the vehicle of personal stories to narrate the moral questions and high-stake consequences the death penalty forces us to consider."

The Louisiana Interchurch Conference released its stance on the death penalty, calling this act of state sanctioned violence "The most draconian of all punishments which violates the dignity and sanctity of human life and diminishes us all."

Joe Cotton, the Director of Pastoral Care and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Seattle, explains how restorative practices are being used throughout the King County juvenile justice system to transform the healing process for all who have been impacted by crime.

Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles in Washington State

Joe Cotton, the Director of Pastoral Care and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Seattle, explains how restorative practices are being used to transform the healing process for all who have been impacted by crime.

2018 is off to a promising start for efforts to end the use of the death penalty! Numerous state houses are considering legislation to either repeal or limit the use of the death penalty, and several others are gearing up for active legislative sessions. 

CMN's Director of Restorative Justice reflects on her call to issues of criminal justice and how Catholic Mobilizing Network is seeking to enliven Catholics to become a part of this national conversation on restorative justice. We believe that responses to harm and crime must honor each person’s God-given dignity and offer opportunities for restoration, whenever possible.

For the first time, CMN has received written correspondence from someone on death row. Clinton Lee Young, whose October 2017 execution was stayed thanks to the efforts of so many CMN supporters and people of goodwill, recently sent CMN a letter thanking us and all people of faith for raising our voices on his behalf, "I am grateful for all those who are Catholic or from other faiths that spoke out for me." 

"I am grateful for all those who are Catholic or from other faiths that spoke out for me."

Catholic Mobilizing Network is pleased to have been invited to be the creative voice for Education for Justice's 2018 Lenten Reflections.

As 2017 comes to an end and we get ready to begin a new year, here is a quick recap of all that happened with the death penalty this last year.

Flordia Cities for Life

Check out the articles below and learn how Florida celebrated this year's annual Cities for Life rally November 30th and spoke out against the death penalty!

Yes, we are all pilgrims on the journey. Any good that we can do for another comes back to us a hundredfold. Jesus is in prison as well as outside the barbed wire fence. Can we answer Jesus’s invitation to visit him inside?  

Last month I had the honor of spending several days in Houston, Texas with Journey of Hope for a leg of their annual speaking tour. I was able to attend several of the formal speaking presentations at various schools and parishes and had the chance to share living quarters and break bread with this dynamic and eclectic group of people.

Just over a year ago our Sisters were murdered in Durant, Mississippi. Rodney Earl Sanders, a man who had been temporarily living across the street from the two, was arrested and charged with their brutal deaths. No motive has been given to date. Sister Margaret M. Held, a School Sister of St. Francis, and Sister Paula J. Merrill, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, were members of our religious communities. They believed in the sacredness of life. In the wake of our unspeakable loss, and in light of the five executions scheduled this month, it has become even more important that we renew our call to end the death penalty. 

"Just over a year ago our Sisters were murdered in Durant, Mississippi."

Participants of PBMR's Forgiveness Circle, including founder Fr. David Kelly

Restorative justice calls us to not only consider how we are personally connected with crime and criminal justice but also with one another. Through encounter, transformation, and amends we may be transformed and honor the human dignity inherent in each one of us.

Participants of PBMR's Forgiveness Circle, including founder Fr. David Kelly

Sister Janet Ryan, OSF of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation recounts a recent experience participating in a Forgiveness Circle and the power this restorative practice have in healing and reconciliation within a community.

As we approach October, where Catholics remember our call to be consistently pro-life, CMN also marks the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10th.

Photo by Scott Langley

During Respect Life Month this year, CMN will be presenting in parishes and at different events throughout Houston, Texas with speakers from our partners at Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing, and the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has requested the Governor to set an execution date for Arkansas inmate Jack Gordon Greene. Despite Greene displaying clear signs of mental illness and documented brain damage, he has been on death row since 1993 for twenty-four years.

Louisiana currently has the highest imprisonment rate in the country. A series of upcoming legislation seeks to reduce sentencing lengths, support re-entry and re-invest funds to reduce recidivism.

"How does God call me to be in relationship with my family, my community, and society?" This is the question that we must continually ask ourselves. The life of Jesus and our Catholic faith offer beautiful examples and deep wisdom about justice, mercy, and reconciliation.

On June 24th, The Community of Sant'Egidio endorsed CMN's National Catholic Pledget to End the Death Penalty, launching it on the international stage.

The death penalty has been in the news a lot these past weeks! Here is a quick summary of some of the most recent state updates to keep you informed:

In April, legislation was introduced that would repeal the death penalty. Despite the bill passing in the Senate, it ultimately failed to gain enough support in the House and did not pass.

In May, Delaware elected officials began work to reinstate the death penalty. The proposed bill has made it through the House and now waits for Senate leadership to schedule the bill.

On May 25th Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that shortens the state death penalty appeals process. Ironically named the "Fair Justice Act," many worry this bill will likely result in more injustice and further brokenness in Alabama's death penalty.

On June 6th the California Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 66, the voter-passed initiative to speed up executions.

 "Let's take this moment to affirm the God-given dignity of every person and the great need in this culture to seek true restoration. Please join me in signing The Pledge to End the Death Penalty today."

Photo: Scott Langley

"Due to growing public opposition to the death penalty and especially in the aftermath of last month’s executions in Arkansas, CMN has launched this pledge to amplify the Church’s work to end the death penalty."

“Instruments of reconciliation” is a new national campaign to amplify active nonviolence in the U.S. Catholic Church. 

On Monday, February 6, 2017, CMN, in partnership with Washington National Cathedral, Washington National Opera, and Equitas, hosted a powerful Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty.

“After the darkness of Good Friday has come a great light”

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor (Image via YouTube)

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor wrote the following letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson March 1, asking him to halt the executions of eight men scheduled for April.

Being pro-life means acknowledging that every life, whether it be of an unborn child or a person in prison, is worth defending. The fight for life is not an adult fight. It is not a politician’s fight. It is not our parent’s fight. It is our fight.

Photo: Carol M. Highsmith

CMN invites you to join us for a Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 7:00-8:30pm. This special event is in anticipation of the Washington National Opera’s premiere performance of Dead Man Walking Opera from February 25 – March 11, 2017.

For Immediate Release: 
January 26, 2017
Contact: Alexandra Carroll
alexandra@catholicsmobilizing.org

We call on you and all members of the incoming administration to prioritize human life and to promote policies that will enable life to flourish. You can show that you value life by committing to eliminate the poverty and violence that often leads to abortion and mass incarceration; by championing policies that address abortion, abolish the death penalty, confront climate change, promote humane immigration reform, welcome refugees fleeing unspeakable violence and work for a just and sustainable peace.

Laura Schaefer serves as Counsel for the Capital Clemency Resource Initiative Death Penalty Due Process Review Project of the American Bar Association

Although the effort to seek clemency for non-violent offenders is gaining traction in our country, the very notion of clemency is not new. In fact, the origins date back thousands of years, to both ancient Greek and Judeo law.

Catholic Mobilizing Network celebrates Dale Recinella, prison chaplain, scholar, and nationally recognized voice on Catholic opposition to the death penalty. The CMN team interviewed Dale, a regular contributor to CMN’s Mercy and the Dignity of Life podcast, to learn more about his work to build a culture of life in our country. ​​​​​

Sister Marion Defeis served as a chaplain for 23 years at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York before retiring in 2007.

By Dan Peitzmeyer, President, Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona – June 15, 2014 – In 2012, Arizona executed six men, placing the state in a tie for second most executed individuals, behind Texas. Many in Arizona are seemingly unaware that our state is actively executing.