Following the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the state death penalty statute, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, on October 15, 2018, welcomed the decision and reiterated the Church’s call to end the death penalty. He noted the call by Pope Francis for an end to the death penalty when the pontiff spoke to the US Congress in 2015.
The full statement of Bishop Dewane follows:
“The Washington Supreme Court is to be commended for its unanimous decision to strike down the state death penalty statute. In his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called for ‘the global abolition of the death penalty,’ as he explained, ‘I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’
“In the Court’s opinion, the death penalty was deemed ‘invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.’ This echoes one of the reasons to oppose the death penalty that the bishops gave in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death:
‘[The death penalty’s] application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed.’
“We join the Catholic Bishops of Washington, the Washington State Catholic Conference, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all people of good will in welcoming this development and persevering in the work to end the death penalty.”