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8th Day Center Gathering of Gratitude
Mary Francis Clarke Photograph
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BVM Senate Death Penalty Statement

"We, the Sisters of Charity, of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa, oppose the death penalty. As women religious who are "being freed and helping others enjoy freedom in God's steadfast love," we believe that all life is sacred. We stand in opposition to the devaluation of human life by capital punishment and the use of violence to exact retribution from the perpetrators of violent acts.

"We oppose the state-sanctioned executions of our brothers and sisters done in our name and reject the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent to violence. We assert that violence only continues the cycle of violence and that it is through love that we can end violence.

"We embrace our sisters and brothers who have experienced loss of family members or friends in violent crimes and pray for healing in their suffering.

"We encourage one another as members of the BVM Congregation to work of the abolition of the death penalty through these or other means.


  • By educating ourselves through articles in BVM publications and other resources such as PAX Christi publications and the U.S. Bishops' Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty and Responsibility, Rehabilitation, Restoration;
  • By advocating the use of resources for rehabilitation rather than execution;
  • By encouraging the re-establishment of right relationship between perpetrator and victim through restorative justice programs;
  • By attending prayer vigils in opposition to the death penalty;
  • By writing letters, visiting, or calling elected officials about abolishing the death penalty."

BVM Senate, Summer 2001