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April 2, 1999

CARDINAL BEVILACQUA AND UNITED STATES BISHOPS' MAKE
GOOD FRIDAY APPEAL TO END THE DEATH PENALTY

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Catholic bishops across the country call on the Catholic community this Good Friday to work on behalf of ending the death penalty. "If every member of the Catholic faith took one small measure toward ending the death penalty, one loud voice of opposition would be heard. Unfortunately, many Catholics still support the death penalty," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "On the day when we recall the execution of Jesus Christ, the faithful should give careful consideration to their own position on this issue."

"Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has called on the faithful to recognize that ‘the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil,' (Pope John Paul II, January 27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri) said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "I join with Our Holy Father and my brother bishops on the Administrative Board of the United States Catholic Conference in reaffirming absolute respect and protection for life, from its conception to its natural end.

The Administrative Board of the U.S. Catholic Conference statement on the death penalty says, in part, " for more than 25 years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for an end to the death penalty in our land. Sadly, however, death sentences and executions in this country continue at an increasing rate." The bishops' statement goes on to state that, as the new millennium approaches, we are "encouraged by new and growing efforts to stop executions around the world."

"While this important message may hold a special meaning for Catholics and fellow Christians on this most solemn day," said Cardinal Bevilacqua, "we understand that this message is timeless and that love and respect for human life is not the province of any one faith. I call on all people of good will to join me and my fellow bishops in working towards an end to capital punishment and a renewed respect for all human life."

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Editor's Note: A copy of the Cardinal's Good Friday statement on the death penalty is attached.

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Cathy Rossi
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