New Mexico's Bishops Support the 2005 Crime and Family Restitution Program

Justice NOT VENGEANCE

January 27, 2005

  • Repeal of the death penalty in New Mexico is one of the top legislative priorities for the NM Catholic Conference in 2005.
  • We are unconditionally pro-life. In Pope John Paul II's eleventh encyclical "The Gospel of Life," he called on Catholics to not only protect the innocent lives of the unborn, but also to defend the lives of those who have committed acts of grave violence by abolishing the death penalty. Our consistent ethic of life recognizes that every person is sacred--every life is precious. Even the most hardened criminal remains a human person created in God's image.
  • We support replacing the death penalty with life without parole, as a more humane punishment, more in keeping with the dignity of each human being. Due to the advanced security of America's prison system, prisoners are no longer a threat to society. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "if non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means."
  • We stand with victims of crime and their families to seek true healing through justice not vengeance. The principles of hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation are at the heart of Jesus Christ's Gospel message. When Pope John Paul II reached out in forgiveness to the attacker who attempted his murder, he expressed the living embodiment of Christ's Gospel. As Catholics, we support programs that help families of murder victims heal from the tragedy of murder and a system of punishment that provides opportunity for reconciliation.
  • We believe that the needs of murder victim's families and victims in general are not being sufficiently met by current state programs. As Catholics, we have a duty to reach out to victims of crime. The 2005 Crime and Family Restitution Program provides New Mexico with the opportunity to support victims through a model "homicide survivors program" that offers comprehensive services such as counseling and crisis intervention; a catastrophic Family Leave Act that provides employee protection by granting unpaid leave for victims; and a Crime Victim's Hotline.
  • Public support among Catholics for repeal of the death penalty is widespread. Support for death penalty repeal is not simply a theological issue for the leaders of the Catholic Church. Across the Nation, 3 out of 4 church-going Catholics support replacing the death penalty with life without parole plus restitution for the victims' families.
  • We urge everyone, both policy makers and citizens alike, to advocate for repeal of New Mexico's death penalty in favor of life without the possibility of parole. Please consider what the continued use of capital punishment does to us as a society and how it diminishes our common humanity. Join us in prayer and in action and support the 2005 Crime and Family Restitution Program.

 

Allen Sanchez, Executive Director
PO Box 3243, Los Lunas, NM 87031
(505) 319-3334