Bishops to issue document on death penalty
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.- The U.S. bishops have voted to draft a document stating Catholic doctrine regarding the death penalty. During the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, the bishops voted to draft a document that will address the issue of the death penalty. The document will probably be voted on and released in November, during the fall meeting of the USCCB.

According to a bishop who spoke with the Catholic News Agency, the document "will basically state the Catholic doctrine about the death penalty as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that, even if a Catholic can still be in favor of the death penalty, it is very hard to humanly justify it in our country."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in number 2267 that "the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

Nevertheless, it also says that if non-lethal means "are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

Currently, 29 states in the U.S. have a moratorium on executions or have carried out three or fewer executions in the last 30 years.

Only nine states have averaged one execution per year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and only four states — Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Missouri — have averaged two or more executions per year during that time. Texas has averaged four or more executions per year in the past three decades.

Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota have had no executions in the past 30 years, even though they have had the death penalty during at least part of that time.

Twelve states do not have the death penalty.

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January 25, 2015

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