I do not support the death penalty. I don’t think any Catholic ought to, although I respect the option Catholics have within our tradition to do so. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that, in the modern world, sufficient means exist to contain dangerous criminals indefinitely without ending their lives, so the cases in which death is the only way to ensure public safety must be few (see paragraph 2267). I don’t have any personal experience with death row, though, and I can’t even begin to try to place myself in the shoes of the perpetrators of capital crimes, their families, and the victims’ families. It’s a blessing that I can’t relate to them.
Jeanne Bishop can, though. In 1990, Bishop’s brother-in-law Richard Langert, sister Nancy Langert, and their unborn child were shot in their home in an affluent Chicago suburb. Their murderer, David Biro, was arrested shortly thereafter; he was a high school student whose family Bishop’s knew. Although she had every reason to write him off to his death sentence and go about her grief and her life, she found herself discovering new faith in Christ and embarking on a difficult path to true healing, forgiveness, and working for justice. She details her story in Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer.