Random Nun Clips

The right to life

Podcast Recorded: July 15, 2021
hands carefully holding a young plant

The right to life is a much bigger concept than many people realize. Sister Eileen Reilly offers a perhaps unexpected perspective.

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Show Notes

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Rejane  
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry.

Sister Maxine  
I'm Sister Maxine, and my guest is Sister Eileen Reilly with the Catholic Mobilizing Network. As its name suggests, the Network mobilizes people across the country to value life over death, to end the death penalty, and to transform the US criminal justice system and society to embrace restoration and healing instead of punishment. Among the many groups the Catholic Mobilizing Network works with are congregations of Catholic Sisters. Sister Eileen, in her role as religious engagement associate, helps Catholic Sisters nationwide in their efforts to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. When we think about all the issues in this world, hunger and homelessness--and in the United States, of course, those are huge issues as well--so why Catholic Sisters' deep interest in the issue of the death penalty, and desiring to end it? Where is that rooted in our tradition and in our teachings?

Sister Eileen  
I think it's rooted in our belief in the basic human dignity of every person. So in the Catholic Church, we talk about the right to life. And we're always reminded that that right to life is from the womb to the tomb. And so here's a pretty egregious violation of that right to life, when any state deliberately chooses to murder one of its citizens. And, as I said earlier, I think some of the worst of the worst of those cases is when it murders innocent citizens. Nobody should receive the death penalty. But the horror of thinking that an innocent person has received it can really be motivating. And in this day and age, we're particularly aware of the racial component of this violation of human dignity. So race plays such a big piece. Religious communities across this country are talking about how to dismantle racism. And this effort could be a huge step in helping with that, because the Death Penalty Information Center just recently released a study on racism and the death penalty. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the odds of you receiving a death sentence, if you've killed a white person, are like three times higher than if you killed a black person. The racism is that overt.

Sister Maxine  
You'd mentioned earlier about the possibility of executing someone who is in fact not guilty. And there have been quite a number of cases of that.

Sister Eileen  
What we know is there have been 185 people exonerated from death row. So we know that at least 185 who received a death sentence, were on death row, and further evidence, further judicial review uncovered that they were, in fact, innocent. Now, everybody thinks of DNA when they hear that, and DNA is part of it. So DNA evidence has contributed a lot to this. But that's not the only cause. Prosecutorial misconduct is a huge cause. Prosecutors hiding evidence, relying on junk science--that kind of thing also contributes to this.

Sister Rejane  
To hear full episodes of A Nun's Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

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