The Death Penalty


    "Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.""
(Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267)


Statements by Bishop Swain

Re-Statement from the Roman Catholic BIshops of South Dakota
Regarding Proposed Legislation on the Death Penalty

January 23, 2014
Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr


Statement from the Roman Catholic Bishops of South Dakota Regarding Impending Executions and the Death Penalty, October 9, 2012
A joint statement from Bishop Paul J. Swain and  Bishop Robert D. Gruss, Diocese of Rapid City


Bishop Paul J. Swain's June 30, 2007, Statement on the Death Penalty
A joint statement with Bishop Blase Cupich on the 2007 execution of Elijah Page.

Campaign to End Death Penalty

Prayer to End the Use of the Death Penalty


A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death stands as a call for the nation to abandon the use of the death penalty and move one step closer to building a culture of life. People like Bud Welch whose daughter died in the Oklahoma City bombing and David Kaczynski, brother of the Unibomber, are some of the voices that have joined with the bishops in this campaign to end the use of death penalty. The stories and narrative highlight the flaws in the death penalty and movingly advocate that Catholics oppose the death penalty in order to build a culture of life.

Study Guide | DVD

Other Church Teachings

Catechism of the Catholic Church
Relevant sections include 2263 to 2267.


Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter on the value and inviolability of human life. Relevant sections include 53 to 57.


Statements by the Holy Father and the Vatican


Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment from 1980

Articles & Other Resources

Death Penalty Backgrounder


Confronting a Culture of Violence:  A Catholic Framework for Action