Bishop Kopacz: Don’t expand death penalty, end it

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2017

Bishop Kopacz: Don’t expand death penalty, end it
As the State of Mississippi’s Legislature debates the expansion of methods in support of the resumption of capital punishment, (H.B. 638) we respectfully submit the perspective and teachings from our Catholic faith that promote the abolition of the death penalty. We encourage and pray for a more comprehensive debate that calls into question our assumptions the moral legitimacy of the death penalty in the state and in our nation.

If, however non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority ought to limit itself to such means as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with dignity of the human person. Today the state, by rendering one who has committed the offense incapable of doing harm, without definitively taking away from him or her the possibility of redemption, the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity, are very rare, if not practically non-existent.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267

When dwelling on legal and moral arguments concerning the death penalty, we should do so not with vengeance and anger in our hearts, but with the compassion and mercy of the Lord in mind. It is also important to remember that penalties imposed on criminals always need to allow for the possibility of the criminal to show regret for the evil committed and to change his or her life for the better. We do not teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill others. Saint Pope John Paul II has said the penalty of death is both cruel and unnecessary. Likewise, the antidote to violence is not more violence.

It has been nearly a year since our Catholic community suffered the tragic murders of Sister Paula Merrill, SCN, and Sister Margaret Held, SSSF, who served at a medical clinic in Holmes County. Immediately, in the midst of their profound loss, both the religious communities to which they belonged and their families stated time and again that they are opposed to the death penalty as a further assault against human dignity. We wholeheartedly agree.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson

Media Contact:
Maureen Smith
Director of Communications
Catholic Diocese of Jackson
601-969-3581 (office)
251-753-6917 (cell)
maureen.smith@jacksondiocese.org

Bishop Kopacz issues letter in support of Daniela Vargas and all DACA recipients

Bishop Joseph Kopacz sent the following letter in support of Daniela Vargas, a previous DACA recipient, who was detained by federal authorities moments after she spoke about her desire for a path to citizenship at a news conference. Although the letter speaks to a specific case, he writes in support of all DACA recipients.

March 2, 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

I am Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Miss., and I am writing in support of Daniela Vargas who was taken into custody yesterday after speaking on behalf of DACA recipients at the press conference in Jackson.  I do not know the details of why her DACA status lapsed or was not renewed in a timely fashion, but I am writing to recommend that whatever steps need to be taken to renew her status as a DACA recipient ought to be implemented as soon as possible and that she should be released during this process.  Some have expressed grave concern at every level of government and society that DACA recipients may be especially vulnerable in the transition from one administration to the next, but President Trump has stated that he will honor the status of all DACA recipients.  I would hope that local branches of our Immigration and Customs Service will uphold the letter and spirit of the law with respect to the legal status of DACA recipients.

Thank you for your attention to this critical concern.

Sincerely,

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+Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of Jackson

Download the PDF here.

Media Contact:
Maureen Smith
Director of Communications
Catholic Diocese of Jackson
601-969-3581 (office)
251-753-6917 (cell)
Maureen.smith@jacksondiocese.org