The state of Iowa abolished the death penalty in 1966. The Iowa Catholic Conference opposes its reinstatement.
We challenge the people of Iowa to examine the issue of capital punishment in the light of basic moral and religious values. We are committed to a consistent ethic of life, by which we wish to give unambiguous witness to the sacredness of every human life from conception through natural death. We proclaim the good news that no person is beyond the redemptive mercy of God.
The recently updated and definitive edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, released September 9, 1997, includes stronger language against the death penalty to reflect the teachings of Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). The new language in the Catechism states that recourse to the death penalty is not excluded “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” The Catechism then affirms strongly that “today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime…the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent'” (paragraph 2267).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has for many decades opposed the use of capital punishment.
As the Iowa bishops said in 1998, “We oppose reinstatement of the death penalty to send a message that we can break the cycle of violence, that we need not take life for life. We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to manifest our belief in the unique worth and dignity of each person, made in the image and likeness of God. We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to give further testimony of our conviction that God is indeed the Lord of life. We oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty to follow the example of Jesus, who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice.”