Sept 17-24, 2017 – Death Penalty & Restorative Justice


Opening Prayer

Almighty and merciful God,

to whom alone the secrets of the heart lie open,

who recognize the just and make righteous the guilty,

hear our prayers for your servants held in prison,

and grant that through patience and hope

they may find relief in their affliction

and soon return unhindered to their own.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


(from the collect of prayers For Various Occasions, #44, For Those in Prison ; Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.)



Matthew 18:21-35

Catechesis video questionsCatechesis video

7-12 grade

  1. What reason does Pope Francis give for ending the death penalty.
  2. Why does the Church teach that the death penalty is inhumane and unneccessary?
  3. What are your thoughts about the death penalty?

Faith sharing/Parishioners

  1. The Church teaches that the death penalty is unnecessary in countries like the United States. How does it come to this conclusion?
  2. Do you agree or disagree with the Church? If you agree, how did you come to that conclusion. If you disagree, what are ways you can come closer to the Church on this area of respecting human life?
  3. In the face of a growing culture of death, what can we do to promote a culture of life? How might we promote a society that chooses not to answer violence with violence?

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. The death penalty is most often used, not as a deterrent, but as a means of vengeance. How, in our own parishes, do we approach those who harm our parish community? How can this relate to the death penalty?
  2. What does the Church teach about the use of the death penalty in countries like the United States?
  3. Our country constantly shares the hurt and horror, the loss and heartache resulting from unspeakable acts of violence. How is our parish caring for sisters and brothers who have been wounded by violence? How might we support them and search for justice?
  4. All who have experienced violence deserve our compassion, solidarity and support. How might we promote spiritual, pastoral and personal healing by standing with families of victims while standing against capital punishment?

Witness Video

St. Maria Goretti was an 11-year-old girl who was attacked by a man named Alessandro Serenelli. He attempted to rape her and when she fought back, he stabbed her and left her for dead. She died from her wounds shortly after. Before she died she proclaimed her forgiveness of Alessandro ““I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in heaven forever.”

Alessandro went to prison. His actions are deplorable but his conversion is nothing short of miraculous. Listen to the following homily on the Story of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli below:

Witness Video Questions

7-12 grade

  1. What was Maria Goretti’s response to Allesandro’s assault? What did she do knowing she was going to die?
  2. Maria, though on her death bed, was thinking of Allesandro. How was she able to forgive him?
  3. Allesandro, though blaming Maria for her own death for many years, had a conversion and became a productive member of society outside of prison. How can this help to inform us about our own nation and the use of the death penalty?

Faith sharing/Parishioners

  1. How was Maria able to forgive Allesandro? Could you do likewise?
  2. What lesson can Maria’s forgiveness and Allesandro’s repentance teach us about how we might approach violent crime and those who commit them in our own country?

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. How was Maria able to forgive Allesandro? Could you do likewise?
  2. What lesson can Maria’s forgiveness and Allesandro’s repentance teach us about how we might approach violent crime and those who commit them in our own country?


Take Action

7-12 grade

  1. Study Restorative Justice practices – the principles behind it, the success rates, the economic benefit – share with local legislators, law enforcement and others involved in the criminal justice system.
  2. Put together an info sheet about restorative justice methods to share with your community, parish, and government officials.
  3. Hold a day long fast as your school and include prayers and information about the need to end the death penalty.

Faith Sharing/Parishioners

  1. Get involved in the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Jail and Prison Ministry 
  2. Set aside one month worth of Fridays to fast, abstain from meat and pray to end the death penalty.
  3. Talk to others about the Church’s teaching and help those who support the death penalty come closer to the teachings of the Church
  4. Volunteer with organizations that serve the victims of violence.

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. Get involved in the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Jail and Prison Ministry 
  2. Promote programs in your parish that connect people to assisting survivors of violence through various means of support.
  3. Hold a program on Restorative Justice and plan a way for your parishioners to get involved in promoting it in your local community, state, and nation.
  4. Welcome guests to your parish who have gone through restorative justice programs to share their story, their challenges and successes.

Closing prayer

Merciful Father, we ask your blessing on all we do to build a culture of life. Hear our prayers for those impacted by the death penalty.

We pray for all people, that their lives and dignity as children of a loving God may be respected and protected in all stages and circumstances.

We pray for victims of violence and their families, that they may experience our love and support and find comfort in your compassion and in the promise of eternal life.

We pray for those on death row, that their lives may be spared, that the innocent may be freed and that the guilty may come to acknowledge their faults and seek reconciliation with you.

We pray for the families of those who are facing execution, that they may be comforted by your love and compassion.

We pray for civic leaders, that they may commit themselves to respecting every human life and ending the use of the death penalty in our land.

Compassionate Father, give us wisdom and hearts filled with your love. Guide us as we work to end the use of the death penalty and to build a society that truly chooses life in all situations.

We ask this Father through your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.


(“Prayer to end the use of the Death Penalty” from the USCCB website)