Please consider this guest post by Mike Janocik. While CV opposes the death penalty, with Pope John Paul II who argued that it is no longer necessary to protect the common good, we have not yet called for its full repeal. We take seriously Mr. Janocik’s call to reexamine the death penalty and reflect upon what Catholics are called to do in this particular circumstance — Ed.
Catholics are at the forefront of a national trend that is gaining momentum within conservative political circles. Motivated by our deep concern for protecting life, we are joining others to call for repeal of the death penalty in America.
A vivid demonstration of this took place a few months ago and Maryland was the stage. While lawmakers at the capitol in Annapolis were voting to repeal capital punishment, Catholics joined by other conservatives from around the nation were a few miles away at the legendary Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to launch a new group – Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
I traveled from my home in Kentucky to join other politically active conservatives – a Republican city councilman from Kansas, a Republican precinct chairman from Texas and a former Republican House Majority Leader from Montana – in reaching out to other conservatives. The response validated what we all knew – conservatives are increasingly questioning the exorbitant costs of capital cases, are worried about the real possibility of executing innocent people, and see the death penalty as inconsistent with promoting a culture of life.
Like many conservative Republicans, I used to be pro-life and pro-death penalty. It was a position contrary to church teaching and, as a strong Catholic, this inconsistency troubled me. If all life is valuable, how can we justify taking life through executions when other means can protect society? Moreover, how can we justify a system of capital punishment that makes mistakes and sometimes threatens innocent life? As someone who deeply values the sanctity of human life and has dedicated myself to protecting life, I no longer could ignore the grave concerns raised by capital punishment. Now, the same principles motivating me to end abortion also inspire me to end the death penalty.
When I first joined Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty I quickly discovered that nationally known conservative leaders, who are also Catholic, were actively and enthusiastically supporting the new group’s efforts.
Richard A. Viguerie, known as the “Funding Father” of the conservative movement and an advisor to Republican presidents, lent his considerable name and reputation to help get us off to a successful start. It included a definitive statement of his position. “Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation, which we conservatives know are rife with injustice. But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people.”
Another conservative icon, Brent Bozell III, founder of the Media Research Center and a nationally known political commentator, has provided valuable insight and counsel to further our efforts, along with his own declarative position statement. “As a Catholic, I maintain the inherent dignity of human life from conception to natural death. In the case of the death penalty, it is now possible for society to protect itself without putting a human to death as it would a wild animal. Since each person has a soul, and is capable of achieving salvation, life in prison ought to be the alternative to the death penalty.”
As you can see, conservative Catholics are leading the way on an issue that once divided many of us. Today, in ever increasing numbers, we are acting in concert with the precepts of the Church and in alignment with our conservative principles by working to end the death penalty in America.
As a person of deep Catholic faith and conservative political convictions, I am proud to be playing my part, and I call on all who share my values to join me. I ask the members and supporters of CatholicVote.org to come together – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Independent – to put into action our Catholic belief in the unique dignity and worth of human life by prohibiting capital punishment once and for all. We urge you to sign up at conservativesconcerned.org, “Friend” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter, “Connect” with us on LinkedIn, and get involved today.
Mike Janocik is a Catholic republican residing in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the administrator of a medical practice, the host of The Mike Janocik Show on WLCR AM 1040 (Catholic programming), politically active in opposing abortion in his home state, and a founding member of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CCATDP, Twitter: @CCATDP, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccatdp