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California bishops call for an end to the death penalty: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2012 November 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Bishops of California have urged voters to back Proposition 34 in the November election and end capital punishment in the state.

In a pastoral letter released last month the bishop said “we believe that the citizens of our state face a profound moral choice this November in the form of Proposition 34. That measure, if approved, will end the death penalty in our state, replacing it with a sentence of life without parole.”

They conceded that capital punishment was an “issue on which reasonable people of good faith might disagree, we want to reaffirm emphatically our Church’s opposition to the death penalty, a position first officially stated by our General Convention in 1958.”

Their opposition to the death penalty was based “in our understanding of God’s justice, our regard for the sacredness of human life, our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, our desire to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and our mission to continue Christ’s work of reconciliation in this world.”

In 1972 the California Supreme Court banned the death penalty, but a voter referendum – Proposition 17 – that year overturned the court’s ban and the death penalty was reinstated in 1978.  However in 2006 a U.S. District Court halted execution in California after he found the state’s execution process was flawed and a moratorium is in place against executions.  As of 2012, 725 inmates, including 19 women, are on California’s death row.

Polls indicate Proposition 34 is not likely to pass. In September, 51 per cent of those polled said they opposed the referendum, while 31 per cent were in favor.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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