Almost all of the attention this election season, both within the Catholic world and on the outside, has been focused on the Presidential campaign.
However, there are a great number of really important state and local propositions on the ballot, and in my state of California, none is more important than Proposition 62: the opportunity to repeal the death penalty.
Many traditional Catholic media outlets, perhaps most prominently Catholic Answers, go to great lengths to point out the Catechism's stance that doesn't rule out the option for the state, highlighted in paragraph 2267:
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
When we turn to recent statements by the Holy Father(s) on the issue, we are able to attain even more guidance on the issue.
St. John Paul II (in Evangelium Vitae):
"...there is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of "legitimate defense" on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform."
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (in a November 30, 2011 general audience):
"[I hope the upcoming conference] will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty.”
Pope Francis (in a Summer 2016 message to the World Conference Against the Death Penalty):
“Indeed, nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person."
Taking all of this into account, Catholics should be able to rest at ease that our Church is truly working toward a stance of being completely pro-life for life, and that's something I'm grateful for.
When you walk into the ballot booth tomorrow in the great state of California, stand on the side of the dignity of human life and vote to repeal the death penalty.