While in the Philippines Senator Manny Pacquiao wants the reimposition of death penalty, the Catholics in the US rejoiced last Thursday, August 2, when they heard on the radio that Pope Francis had declared the death penalty unacceptable in all cases.
Interestingly, one of those who rejoiced and cried upon hearing the news was Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was raped and murdered in her Philadelphia apartment 20 years ago.
Schieber said, she has forgiven her daughter’s murderer, but now Francis’s declaration had helped her mission to put an end to the death penalty take a giant step forward” She said, “I promised my daughter — I talk to her a lot — I said, ‘Listen, I’m working hard down here to end the death penalty, but I need you to pull some strings up there for mom,’“ Schieber told NBC News. “And I guess she did.”
Many believe that Pope Francis may make it more difficult for conservative Catholic politicians to allow the practice to continue.
Even in Washington state, Sen. Mike Miloscia, a devout Catholic and Republican, worked with members of his party and Democrats earlier this year to try to abolish the death penalty in his state. Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who placed a moratorium on executions, supported the measure with his former Republican opponent, but the bill died after passing through the Senate.
He further said, ”It’s a big moment”.“The Catholic Church has been moving in this direction for the last 30 years to be truly pro-life across the board and be clear about our teachings to protect all human life from conception to natural death — and that includes abolishing the death penalty.”
The support for the death penalty remains relatively high in the United States. In recent years, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills to end the death penalty in New Hampshire, Nebraska, Utah, Missouri, Ohio, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky, Kansas and Washington state. It’s a growing movement that has earned the attention of those who have long advocated against the punishment.“The conservative movement is beginning to really understand all the issues,” said Schieber. “They are a wonderful team to be involved with.”
Non-Catholic but was raised in a Catholic family State Sen. Kevin Avard, pointed out that his bill to put a stop to executions in New Hampshire had 13 co-sponsors who came to the same conclusion for different reasons. Many cited their religious faith, some did not find death row to be fiscally feasible and others did not think the government should have that much power or feared putting an innocent man to death.
Even a former Nebraska senator, Colby Coash, who was once a supporter of the death penalty suddenly turned to one of its strongest opponents. He was able to convince his fellow lawmakers to abolish the death penalty in 2015. Voters overturned that legislation in a November 2016 ballot imitative. He said “his faith turned him from once being a supporter of the death penalty to one of its strongest opponents.”
“Through my faith, I don’t see [God] telling me to put people to death,” he said. “That’s not the faith I’ve come to know and the Pope as the spokesperson for that faith has happily validated that.”