Today the light of life shines brightly in the state of Maryland. The darkness of state-sponsored executions has ended with the death penalty repeal legislation’s signing into law.
“This is a historic moment for Maryland as we become the 18th state to eliminate the death penalty,” said Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “In honor of this joyful moment and long-sought victory to end the death penalty in our state, the Basilica in Baltimore will be lit at dusk and will shine overnight for Maryland.”
“This successful end to a long journey would not have been possible without the leadership of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, led by Jane Henderson and so many other partners in our coalition, especially those who have been directly touched by the murder of a loved one or who have sat on death row wrongly convicted, such as Vicki Schieber, Bonnita Spikes, and Kirk Bloodsworth,” she said.
The Catholic Church teaches that a consistent ethic of life demands respect for the dignity of every human life, including those of criminals on death row. The test of whether the death penalty can be used is not the gravity of the offense, but whether it is absolutely necessary to protect society. Imposing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole is a sufficient means of protecting society without resorting to taking another life.
Maryland Catholic Conference advocates for the Church's public policy positions before the Maryland General Assembly and other civil officials. The Conference represents the three dioceses with territory in the state – the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.