SAN ANTONIO — The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders has endorsed the California ballot measure Proposition 34, advocating the repeal of the death penalty.
“We truly believe strongly that capital punishment's day is over. There was a time and a place for that. It is no longer that time, and it is no longer that place,” association president and CEO Robert Aguirre told EWTN News Oct. 30.
“We really encourage the people of California to help lead the nation to the elimination of capital punishment.”
The proposal would replace California's death penalty with a sentence of life in prison without parole. If it passes, the sentences of almost 725 convicted death-row inmates will be reduced to life in prison.
The measure would also dedicate $100 million in the state budget for police agencies to solve more homicide and rape cases, NBC San Diego reports.
The Texas-based Catholic Latino group, whose largest chapter is in Los Angeles, joins other Proposition 34 supporters, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and judges and attorneys.
Aguirre said the ballot measure presented an opportunity to add “a Hispanic business and professional voice” to supporters of the measure in the belief that “all life is sacred, and killing does not end killing.”
The group wanted to support the bishops’ position on life issues, including capital punishment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that Church teaching “does not exclude recourse to the death penalty if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” However, it also states that the necessity for using the death penalty today is “very rare, if not practically non-existent."
Opponents of the measure include Mark Kaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in Petaluma, Calif., in 1993. He told NBC San Diego he believes in capital punishments for people like Richard Allen Davis, the convicted murderer of his daughter who is now on death row.
Aguirre said Oct. 29 that the Catholic Association for Latino Leaders recognizes the “profound anguish” of those who have lost a loved one to violence” and offers them their prayers.
“Nothing can undo the terrifying memories of violence that have been inflicted, not even taking the life of the convicted killer,” he said.
The California Catholic bishops backed Proposition 34 in a January statement, saying that the death penalty is “no longer necessary to protect the community.
“As Catholics we hold human life as sacred. In the exercise of justice, this principle must prevail in the manner we treat one another, even for those who have done grave harm.”