Indiana Catholic Conference
Victoria Arthur
July 10, 2024 // National

Indiana Catholic Conference Opposes the Resumption of State Executions

Indiana Catholic Conference
Victoria Arthur

On behalf of the five Catholic dioceses in the state of Indiana, the Indiana Catholic Conference is strongly opposed to the decision to seek the resumption of executions in Indiana as recently announced by the Indiana Governor and Attorney General.

A Consistent Ethic of Life

The Catholic Church has consistently sought to protect human life from conception to natural death. As Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us in 1999, “the new evangelization calls us to be unconditionally pro-life,” and that “modern society has the means of protecting itself without definitely denying criminals the chance to reform.” More recently, Pope Francis emphasized the Church’s opposition to the death penalty in a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” (CCC 2267)

We are grateful for Indiana’s commitment to protecting human life, particularly for the preborn. However, the Church holds that human dignity is also offended when the state’s punishment takes a life. The convicted, the executioner, and society are all harmed when violence is unnecessarily carried out, especially when the penal system can adequately protect the social order from further harm.

Solidarity with Victims

When speaking against the use of the death penalty, the Church is abundantly clear in her expression of solidarity with the family and friends of victims. As the Indiana Catholic Conference expressed in a 2019 letter opposing the end of the federal moratorium on the death penalty: “In seeking to end the use of the death penalty, we do not dismiss the evil and harm caused by people who commit horrible crimes, especially murder. We share in the sorrow and loss of families and victims of such crimes. And we call upon our faith community and all persons of good will to stand with the victims and to provide spiritual, pastoral, and personal support.”

Indiana Should Eliminate Use of the Death Penalty

In addition to the Church’s moral teaching, there are several compelling reasons for Indiana to forego the use of the death penalty: 1) there are other means of protecting society and punishing criminals, 2) the death penalty demonstrably does not deter crime, 3) its application is flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, 4) death penalty cases are extremely expensive compared to other criminal cases, and 5) twenty-nine states no longer use it as a form of punishment.

The ICC’s Appeal to the Indiana General Assembly, Governor, and Attorney General

The Indiana Catholic Conference calls upon the Attorney General, members of the Indiana General Assembly, and the Governor, respectively, to:

1) Rescind the motion asking the Indiana Supreme Court to set an execution date for Joseph Corcoran.

2) Legislatively repeal the use of the death penalty in Indiana.

3) Remove plans to include a death chamber in the new state prison under construction in Westville, Indiana.

These actions would bring Indiana closer to implementing a consistent protection of human life and social order through law. We make this appeal alongside a commitment to working with our elected leaders and public officials to continue strengthening the culture of life in our great state.

Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D., J.C.L. – Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana Catholic Conference General Chairman

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, D.D. – Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Most Reverend Joseph M. Siegel, D.D., S.T.L. – Diocese of Evansville

Most Reverend Robert J. McClory D.D., J.D., J.C.L., S.T.D. – Diocese of Gary

Most Reverend Timothy L. Doherty, S.T.L., Ph.D. – Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana

July 8, 2024

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