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National Catholic Reporter

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Capital punishment

Bishops object to death penalty as punishment in Boston bomber case

As the trial of Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to the jury Monday, the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts released a statement reiterating the church's teaching on the death penalty.

If convicted, Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death or to life without the possibility of parole.

The Catholic church opposes the death penalty except "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," but such cases "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

Life and death justice issues face court, draw faith leaders' voices

In separate cases, the Supreme Court will consider persistently unsettled angles on criminal sentencing, including death sentences for people with mental disabilities and life sentences for juveniles.

The court heard oral arguments Monday in a Louisiana case that challenges the death sentence of Kevan Brumfield, who his attorneys say should be exempt from capital punishment because he is intellectually disabled. The case asks the court to allow evidence of disability to be considered in a reconsideration of his death sentence.

In a groundbreaking vote, Latino evangelicals call for end to death penalty

A leading group of Latino evangelicals has called for an end to state-sanctioned capital punishment, the first national association of evangelicals to do so.

In a unanimous vote Friday, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition urged its 3,000 member congregations to end capital punishment across the country.

"As Christ followers, we are called to work toward justice for all," coalition President Gabriel Salguero said. "And as Latinos, we know too well that justice is not always even-handed."

Utah bishop decries governor's decision to sign firing squad measure

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By reinstating the use of a firing squad as a method of execution in Utah, "it seems as if our government leaders have substituted state legislation for the law of God," said the state's Catholic bishop.

"They argue that, because executions are lawful, they are then moral. This is not so. No human law can trump God's law," Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester said in a March 24 statement. "Taking a human life is wrong; a slap in the face of hope and a blasphemous attempt to assume divine attributes that we humble human beings do not have."

Pope Francis calls death penalty 'unacceptable,' urges abolition

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Pope Francis came out squarely against the death penalty once again, calling it "unacceptable" regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned.

Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty on Friday and issued a letter on the occasion urging worldwide abolition.

Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the pope called capital punishment "cruel, inhumane and degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge."

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