“We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.” – Pope Francis
Pope Francis reminds us that the commandment “thou shall not kill” pertains to the innocent as well as the guilty, in order to respect the sacredness and human dignity of all people. As a society, we should strive towards restorative justice that contributes to the healing of the guilty, victims’ families and society to strengthen the common good and stop perpetuating the culture of death. The California Catholic Conference of Bishops are supporting Prop 62 to end the use of the death penalty and opposing Prop 66 which would speed up executions.
For information and more on Catholic teaching, visit www.cacatholic.org.
Bishops Have Long Called for Ending the Use of the Death Penalty
“We should resist policies that simply call for more prisons, harsher sentences, and increased reliance on the death penalty,” said the U.S. Bishops in 2000. “Rather, we should promote policies that put more resources into restoration, education, and substance-abuse treatment programs.” During this Year of Mercy, Californians have a chance to end the death in our state by approving Prop 62 and rejecting Prop 66. For more information, visit www.cacatholic.org.
Mercy and the Death Penalty
As the issue of the death penalty comes up this election, it is important to remain prayerful and conscious of God’s mercy in our own lives and how that translates to others. In his message to a world conference against the death penalty earlier this year, Pope Francis lamented that capital punishment “contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice.” As Catholics, we should look to extend to others the loving hands of mercy and redemption that God has so lovingly extended to us. Explore the church’s teaching on the death penalty and why the California Bishops are urging support for Prop 62 at www.cacatholic.org.
Pro-Life Positions and the Death Penalty
According to Pope John Paul Il, “New evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.” (Mass, St. Louis, MO., 1-27-99.) The same protection for the sanctity of human life talked about so often with abortion extends to the death penalty. All souls, innocent or flawed, have intrinsic value, as we are all created in God’s likeness and are precious in the eyes of our Lord. The death penalty – which will be repealed by Prop 62 — destroys the opportunity for redemption and the ability of God’s mercy to work in the lives of those affected. For more on forgiveness and the sanctity of all life, visit www.cacatholic.org.
SEVEN THEMES OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic socialteaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents. In these brief reflections, we highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. Howwe organize our society in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.l The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
Care for God’s Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
This summary should only be a starting point for those interested in Catholic social teaching. A full understanding can only be achieved by reading the papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents that make up this rich tradition. For a copy of the complete text of Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions (NO. 5-281 ) and other social teaching documents, call 800-235-8722.