In these months before November, the electorate of California will prepare to cast ballots on a record number of propositions.  Among these is Proposition 62, which would put an end to the death penalty, and Proposition 66, which seeks to expedite the application of the death penalty.

I join with the Bishops of California who favor Proposition 62 and oppose Proposition 66, and I appeal to Catholics of the Diocese of San Jose to do the same, to affirm that human life – all life – is a gift from God.

Society has the responsibility to protect the common good; however, the death penalty does not achieve this any more effectively than is possible within the prison system.  In addition to this, the number of Death Row prisoners who have eventually been found to be innocent calls into question the viability of capital punishment.  Among these is a disproportionate number who are members of minorities and/or the poor.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the teaching of popes, beginning with Saint John XXIII, against the death penalty. Most recently, Pope Francis declared that capital punishment “is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person. . .It likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice.”

I encourage you to affirm life as you vote in favor of Proposition 62, and against Proposition 66 on November 8.