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T he Catholic magisterium does not, and never has, advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. I know of no official statement from popes or bishops, whether in the past or in the present, that denies the right of the State to execute offenders at least in certain extreme cases. The United States bishops, in their majority statement on capital punishment, conceded that “Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the State has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime.” Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, in his famous speech on the “Consistent Ethic of Life” at Fordham in 1983, stated his concurrence with the “classical position” that the State has the right to inflict capital punishment.
Bishop Blaire Welcomes Repeal Of Death Penalty In Maryland
May 2, 2013
Bishops Welcome Connecticut Death Penalty Repeal
April 26, 2012
USCCB, Illinois Bishops Laud State's Death Penalty Repeal
March 10, 2011
Bishops Urge Illinois Governor to Sign Bill Ending Death Penalty
March 3, 2011
Bishops Congratulate New Mexico on Death Penalty's Repeal
March 19, 2009
Bishops Urge NM Governor to Sign Death Penalty Repeal
Bishop William F. Murphy, March 16, 2009
Bishops Launch Major Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty | En Español
March 21, 2005
Bishops Commend Governor's Clemency to Death Row Inmates
January 16, 2003
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Immediately following the execution of Bundy, Chief Justice william h. rehnquist called for changes in the procedure for appealing death sentences. Noting that the Supreme Court had turned down three emergency appeals by Bundy in the hours just prior to his execution, the chief justice said, "Surely it would be a bold person to say that this system could not be improved."
In the 2008 case Kennedy v. Louisiana , the court also held 5–4 that the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to non-homicidal crimes against the person, including child rape . Only two death row inmates (both in Louisiana) were affected by the decision.  Nevertheless, the ruling came less than five months before the 2008 presidential election and was criticized by both major party candidates Barack Obama and John McCain .