Opposing the death penalty is ‘pro-life’: Advocacy group renews bishop’s call to repeal Delaware death penalty


Staff reporter


A diocesan group is asking Delaware Catholics to contact state legislators to urge them to follow the example set last year by Maryland and repeal the death penalty in the First State.

The Delaware Catholic Advocacy Network (DCAN) issued the “action alert” on Feb. 10.

Senate Bill 19 was introduced last year by Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) and passed the state senate by an 11-10 vote. It was introduced into the state house of representatives last March and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has languished since without a public hearing. The bill remains active through the end of the legislative session this June.

Bob Krebs, communications director for the diocese and a spokesman for the DCAN, said the network is not optimistic about its chances because so many people in the state house are pro-death penalty. Still, this is an opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard.

“We have to keep the pressure on to the best of our ability and remind people that we are pro-life,” Krebs said.

The release notes that the House Judiciary Committee’s refusal to take up the measure prevents it from getting consideration from the full chamber.

“The trend in our country is clear. The death penalty must be abolished,” the release said.

According to DCAN, the teachings of Jesus focus on mercy, forgiveness and redemption, and the Catholic Church invokes these themes to oppose capital punishment. On a more concrete level, capital punishment has not proven to be a deterrent to homicide; U.S. Department of Justice statistics show murder rates are higher in states that have the death penalty.

The DCAN noted that Bishop Malooly called for the passage of Senate Bill 19 last year in a letter to the Delaware legislature.

“Today, imprisonment is effective in removing the serious offender from society and thus removes the danger to innocent life,” the bishop wrote. “Imprisonment allows time for repentance, reformation and a change of heart.

“The ultimate challenge to any society is the preservation and sanctity of life, all life, each life,” the bishop added.

The action alert is at www.cdow.org. Click on “Join the Delaware Catholic Advocacy Network.” On that page there is a way to look up legislators and send them an email.

Two other organizations are calling for repeal. Witness to Innocence, a group of people who have been exonerated after serving time on death row, has 15 people in Delaware this weekend to advocate for repeal. The Delaware Repeal Project is co-sponsoring the events. Members of Witness to Innocence will visit churches in Delaware on the 23rd. For information, go to www.derepeal.org.