No Picture
News Briefs

Cardinal Gregory, young Catholic leaders to dialogue about humanitarian crises, racism, and solidarity

October 7, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis takes a selfie with members of International Eucharistic Youth Movement in Paul VI Hall on Aug 7, 2015. / L’Osservatore Romano

Washington D.C., Oct 7, 2021 / 14:05 pm (CNA).

Tonight, the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University will host the first of a three-part dialogue series for young adults on Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis’ encyclical on fraternity and social friendship. The first session, “Who is My Neighbor,” will focus on the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, as well as systemic racism in the United States. 

The series, which came about at the request of Pope Francis by way of the USCCB and Archbishop Jose Gomez, is designed to engage young adults in conversation around the topic of solidarity with their neighbors, both in the U.S. and abroad. The first dialogue will wrap up with a call-to-action for participants to consider the question, “Who is my neighbor?” 

“What’s one thing the young adults listening can do to practice what Pope Francis teaches us in Fratelli tutti to support our sisters and brothers, whether they’re our next door neighbors, or whether they’re in Afghanistan or Haiti?” said Anna Gordon, project manager for the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. “We’re hoping that people will leave the conversation feeling inspired to act on the message of Fratelli tutti.” 

The core of the initiative’s mission, Gordon said, is to bring young leaders together to talk about how their faith impacts the world. The initiative has been around for more than eight years, and it works closely with the Archdiocese of Washington on community initiatives.  

The dialogue will include four parts: a brief overview of the topic and a welcome from Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington; a discussion on the general themes of Fratelli tutti, led by two of the participants along with the cardinal; examples of what it means to be a neighbor in Washington, Haiti, and Afghanistan; and a time for questions and answers.  

“A big focus will be talking about what the role of social friendship and solidarity means when there are these humanitarian crises happening,” Gordon said. “We’re talking about global solidarity, but also what does solidarity look like in our own backyard.”

The panelists for the first dialogue are Muzhgan Azizy, a recent refugee from Afghanistan; Juan Aznaran, partnerships manager for the Newcomer Network of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Washington; Omayma El Ella, project associate for the Just and Inclusive Society Project at Democracy Fund; Reynold Hyppolite, head of youth programming for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti; Gerald Smith, Jr., a Catholic school principal in Washington, D.C.; and Cardinal Gregory.

“We have such rich and diverse viewpoints and perspectives,” Gordon said. “They all have such wonderful things to share about their work, their lives, and how they’ve been seen as a neighbor and how people have reached out to them as neighbors.” 

“Despite the newsreel that we see on our phones, the constant, what seems like, negative news, these participants are giving us glimpses of what it really means to be a neighbor in a time of global humanitarian crises, racism, and the pandemic,” Gordon said.

Though encouraged, RSVPs are not required to participate in the series. The dialogue, an extension of the Theology on Tap programs of the Archdiocese of Washington, will be livestreamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter at 7 p.m. EDT. 

“I hope it challenges the people watching to dream and to hope, and to really reach out to their neighbors and ask, ‘Who is my neighbor in my life?’ and ‘How can I be a better neighbor to everyone that I meet?’” Gordon said. 

The next two dialogues in the series will be held Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.


No Picture
News Briefs

Survey: A majority of US Catholics support the death penalty

July 21, 2021 Catholic News Agency 1
The lethal injection room at California’s San Quentin State Prison. / California Department of Corrections via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2021 / 18:02 pm (CNA).

One recent survey shows a majority of U.S. Catholics supporting use of the death penalty for murder convicts. The poll numbers follow a 2018 update to the Catechism that the death penalty is “inadmissible.”

According to a survey of 5,109 U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center, conducted from April 5 to 11, 2021 and published in June, a majority of U.S. Catholics either “strongly” or “somewhat” support use of the death penalty for murder convicts.

Mirroring the responses of U.S. adults overall, 31% of Catholics “somewhat” favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder, while 27% of Catholics “strongly” favor it.

In comparison, 32% of U.S. adults “somewhat” favor the death penalty in such cases, and 27% “strongly” favor it, according to the Pew report.

Among Hispanic Catholics, there is slightly more support for the death penalty for murder convicts. In this subgroup, 30% “somewhat” support the death penalty in such cases, and 31% “strongly” support it.

Regarding the question of moral justification for the death penalty, a majority of Catholics believe it is justified in cases of murder convictions.

Among Catholics overall, 60% say capital punishment is morally justified “when someone commits a crime like murder”; among Hispanic Catholics, that number is 62%. Only 30% of Catholics believe the death penalty is morally wrong, including 35% of Hispanic Catholics.

Among religious subgroups, white evangelical and non-evangelical Protestants are most likely to believe the death penalty is morally justified in cases such as murder. More than three-quarters, 77%, of white evangelical Protestants believe this, and 76% of white non-evangelical Protestants.

Nearly two-thirds of those professing no religion “in particular,” 66%, also said that capital punishment is justified in such instances.

Language in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the use of the death penalty was updated in 2018, calling it “inadmissible.”

Pope Francis, in his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, wrote, “Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the Church is firmly committed to calling for its abolition worldwide.”

In October 2020, CNA spoke with Fr. Thomas Petri regarding Pope Francis’ statements on the death penalty. Fr. Petri is currently the president and assistant professor of moral theology and pastoral studies at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

He explained that the Church’s ordinary magisterium has always taught that “states have the right to inflict the penalty of death.” He added that “no pope can somehow come out and contradict that.”

Pope Francis, he said, did not say the use of the death penalty was “intrinsically evil,” and thus did not contradict the Church’s ordinary magisterium.

Both popes John Paul II and Francis have made prudential applications of the Church’s teaching in areas of faith and morals, he said. Their statements on the death penalty have noted that the security of modern prisons has rendered the need for the death penalty non-existent, as a means of protecting society from criminals.

Thus, since popes have spoken frequently on the death penalty in recent years – including through encyclicals and the Catechism – Catholics cannot just prudentially disagree with their teachings, he said.

“You can probably disagree with whether or not there should be life prison terms, but not this. I don’t think you can say this about the death penalty issue,” he said.

According to a 2020 RealClear Opinion Research poll, sponsored by EWTN News, U.S. Catholics broadly supported the death penalty by a margin of 57% to 29%.

In the April 2021 Pew survey, atheists, agnostics, and Black Protestants were the most likely religious subgroups to say the death penalty is morally wrong. A slight majority of atheists, 51%, believe the death penalty is morally wrong, compared to 47% of self-identified agnostics and 42% of Black Protestants.