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KPBS Midday Edition

Why San Diego's Catholic Bishop Is Mixing Politics, Religion

Roman Catholic Church Diocese
This undated photo shows Bishop Robert McElroy.

Why San Diego’s Catholic Bishop Is Mixing Politics, Religion
Why San Diego's Catholic Bishop Is Mixing Politics, Religion GUEST:Bishop Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego

California's Proposition 62 will appear on the November ballot and would eliminate the state's death penalty and replace it with life in prison without possibility of parole.

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Nationwide polls show a majority of Americans still support capital punishment, including a majority of American Catholics.

But Catholic bishops in California have now made their support of Proposition 62 public.

"We're now in a period where the cycle of violence is very much in our minds, our society is greatly weighed down. Because of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the terrible killings of our police, this cycle of violence is perpetuating itself," said Bishop Robert McElroy, the leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. "The death penalty itself is a violent act; it's the taking of a human life. One of the great problems in our society which I really never thought we'd have to face is the fact that we now know that many innocent people have been put to death in our society."

On the opposite side of the question is Jan Miller, whose daughter was murdered. Miller is president of Citizens Against Homicide. She's also a practicing Catholic who supports the death penalty.

"When you are in that courtroom and you hear that judge say that the murderer of your loved one is going to receive the death penalty because of the horrific crime that they committed, you as that family member or that friend feel that justice is finally going to be served for your loved one," Miller said. "For the bishop, or any other group to come out and say you don't deserve that justice, that's just wrong."

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Bishop McElroy discusses his opposition to the death penalty on KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday.