The Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. are starting a major campaign to end the use of the death penalty, the Boston Globe reports. The bishops have been emboldened by Supreme Court decisions limiting executions, and by polling that they say shows a dramatic increase in opposition to capital punishment among Catholic Americans. The campaign, announced by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick in Washington, D.C., will include legislative action, legal advocacy, educational work, and a Web site www.ccedp.org, for the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty. “We think that, with a lot of work, the time will come, not too far down the road, when the U.S. no longer uses the death penalty,” said John Carr, director of social development and world peace at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishops filed amicus briefs in two Supreme Court cases, one last year on the execution of juveniles and one in 2000 regarding the execution of the mentally ill. In each case, the court issued rulings limiting the use of the death penalty; in the earlier case the court majority cited the bishops’ brief. The campaign is being launched in part to mark the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bishops’ first major statement against the death penalty. The announcement was set today, at the start of Holy Week because at this time of year Catholics are reflecting on the execution of Jesus.