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Catholic Mobilizing Network hosting death penalty webinar on Thursday

(Catholic Mobilizing Network)

The Catholic Mobilizing Network, a restorative justice ministry based in Washington DC, will host a free webinar on the federal death penalty on Thursday, January 26th at 2pm ET with advocates and experts in the field.

Entitled “Ending the Federal Death Penalty: The Road Ahead”, it comes amidst state-level executions across the country, including two originally scheduled on the day of the webinar, those of Donald Anthony Grant in Oklahoma and Matthew Reeves in Alabama—both of whom have documented intellectual disabilities.

(An injunction blocking the latter is currently on appeal in the US Court of Appeals.)

“When President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the country stood in the wake of an unprecedented spree of 13 federal executions, ordered and administered by the Trump administration,” CMN said in a statement announcing the event.

“Biden, a Catholic, is now the first U.S. president to openly oppose the death penalty, and his administration has declared the nation's first official (though temporary) federal execution moratorium and policy review—a possible first step toward abolition.”

The webinar will aim to inform viewers about the federal death penalty, which has been suspended since July, and chart a path for how Catholics can help prevent federal execution sprees—like the one undertaken by former president Donald Trump in the waning months of his presidency.

The one-hour event will feature Sr Barbara Battista, SP, a physician assistant and member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She advocates against capital punishment with the Terre Haute Death Penalty Resistance group in Indiana and has recently been featured in national news.

Also speaking will be Ingrid Delgado, a policy advisor for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in the Office of Domestic Social Development. She currently serves as board chair of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Joining them will be Ngozi Ndulue, deputy director of the Death Penalty Information Center, the nation’s foremost organization researching capital punishment. A lawyer by training, she has previously worked as an attorney for death row inmates and also directed the national criminal justice program for the NAACP.

The webinar is being sponsored by a wide swath of social justice organizations from within and outside the Church, including the Jesuits’ Office of Justice and Ecology and Ignatian Solidarity Network; CMN’s Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition; Death Penalty Action; Faith in Public Life; the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition; and Equal Justice USA alongside its sub-group Conservatives Conference About the Death Penalty.

CMN itself is the nation’s premier Catholic organization advocating against capital punishment, and was founded in January 2009 by Karen Clifton. A predecessor, Catholics Against Capital Punishment (CACP), was founded in 1992 and folded its operations into CMN roughly a decade ago.

In addition to producing restorative justice resources from a Catholic perspective, the organization regularly organizes online petitions against upcoming executions and livestreams a monthly First Friday Prayer Vigil with clergy, other Church leaders, and activists.

Registration for Thursday’s event is available on the CMN website here.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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