Black Catholic Statement on the Death Penalty

Sister Callista Robinson

The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the National Association of Black Catholic Deacons, the National Black Sisters’ Conference and the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association are profoundly opposed to the death penalty.

We embrace the truth that all life is sacred from conception to natural death and must not be purposely ended.

The “Death Penalty Information Center” and the Catholic Mobilizing Network have compiled national reports that clearly indicate that race and poverty, in large part, are determining factors in our criminal justice system, thus creating a system which, because of its sensitivity to wealth, is innately flawed. It is a system in which a citizen is treated better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent.

The link between poverty and the denial of competent legal defense is one of the most compelling reasons for the abolition of the death penalty. It is the right of everyone to stand equal before the legal systems of this country, otherwise there remains the ever-present reality that someone is put to death not for the crime they were convicted of but because they were poor.

We believe with Saint John Paul II who stated in 1999, “…no matter how heinous the crime, the offender retains their God-given worth and must be treated with dignity…” and support Pope Francis who stated, “It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means [other] than capital punishment to defend people’s lives from an unjust aggressor…All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle…for abolition of the death penalty…”

National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus
Fr. Kenneth Taylor, President

National Association of Black Catholic Deacons
Deacon Joseph Connor, President

National Black Sisters’ Conference
Sr. Callista Robinson, OSF, President

National Black Catholic Seminarians Association
Seminarian Mark Bristol, President


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The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, is a community of Catholic women religious who follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. We believe that the living of a poor, simple and prayerful community life is a ministry of presence and witness. Our doors are open to the public to celebrate Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel and to benefit from the St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health & Recreation Center. We welcome those who wish to join us as sisters, associates, volunteers, transfer sisters, friends and donors.


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