Archbishop Chaput decries death penalty

On Wednesday, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput praised a recent Supreme Court decision which bans the use of the death penalty for minors who were 18 or younger when they committed their crime.

In his column in the Denver Catholic Register, Chaput said that, “From the Church’s perspective, this is important news; a victory for careful reflection and common decency.”

He lamented however, that the larger problem of the death penalty “remains with us”, pointing out that “Catholic teaching on the death penalty flows from the sanctity of the human person. All life is sacred. Every person, even the convicted murderer, is created by God with God-given dignity.”

“If the defendant in a murder trial is financially well off and white,” he said, “he has a much lower chance of receiving the death penalty than if he’s poor or a person of color.”

While noting that Scripture and Catholic tradition, do give legitimacy to capital punishment in certain circumstances, the Archbishop said that, “In developed countries like our own, it should have no place in our public life.”

“In the United States in 2005,” he pointed out, “the guilty can be punished and public safety can be ensured without sending a single human being to an execution chamber.”

Added Archbishop Chaput, “When we take a murderer’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture, and we demean our own dignity in the process.”

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