Bishops to campaign against death penalty

March 20, 2005 at 9:29 AM

BOSTON, March 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are preparing to begin what they call a major campaign to end the use of the death penalty in the United States.

A bishop's aide told the Boston Globe the bishops have been emboldened by two recent Supreme Court decisions that limit executions and by polls suggesting a dramatic increase in death penalty opposition among U.S. Catholics.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is scheduled to announced the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty at a news conference in Washington Monday. The campaign will include legislation, legal advocacy, education and a new Web site at ccedp.org.

"We think that, with a lot of work, the time will come, not too far down the road, when the United States no longer uses the death penalty," said John Carr, director of social development and world peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The campaign marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bishops' first major statement against the death penalty in 1980.

Since 1976, 56 people have been executed in the United States, while 119 death row convicts have been exonerated, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment.

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