On August 2, Chicago’s Archbishop, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, was one of several distinguished panelists participating in “Has the Death Penalty Become an Anachronism? A Discussion of Changing Laws, Practices, and Religion on Our Standard of Decency.” The panel was hosted by the American Bar Association.
In the opening phase of his talk, Cardinal Cupich acknowledged the Vatican’s announcement earlier in the day relating to the death penalty stating: “As you may have heard, today Pope Francis made a bit of news by revising the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that capital punishment is ‘inadmissible’ because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
Continuing with his address, the Archbishop focused on how Catholic teaching on the death penalty developed. He emphasized the point that putting people to death, even those who have committed terrible acts, “makes it seem that the God-given right to life is conditional.”
Other members of the ABA panel included: Robert Dunham, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center; Meredith Martin Rountree, Senior Lecturer at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law; and Karen Gottlieb, Co-Director of the Florida Center for Capital Representation at Florida International University. These three speakers discussed the development of capital punishment, circumstances where the death penalty can be applied constitutionally, if at all, and the many ways it has been applied unfairly and arbitrarily.
Dunham pointed out several factors surrounding application of the death penalty in capital cases, while Roundtree focused attention on executions under laws that were later found to be unconstitutional. In Durham’s opinion the nature of the crime often has little to do with a death penalty sentence, but rather is more about where the crime was committed, the political views of the prosecutor, whether the accused receives a competent and committed defense, and race – of the accused and the victim.
Please use this link for additional news on the August 2 panel, published in Crux Now.
A complete transcript of Cardinal Cupich’s ABA address is available here.