Death Penalty


Virginia Bishops reiterate opposition to Commonwealth's continued use of death penalty in Jan. 18, 2017 statement.

Virginia Bishops' 2015 death penalty statement (in Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese)

Virginia death penalty fact sheet from VCC and VADP


Advance Medical Directive and End-of-Life resources


Virginia Bishops' letter on Advance Medical Directives

Advance Medical Directive Definitions and Instructions

Advance Medical Directive document

Advance Medical Directive Q&A

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: To Live each Day with Dignity: A Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide (PDF) »


Additional Life Resources & Links

The Vatican: Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), 1995 encyclical »

The Vatican: Pope Paul VI, Humane Vitae (Human Life), 1965 encyclical »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Catechism of the Catholic Church »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Pro-Life Activities »

Stem Cells

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Q&A on Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning, June 2008 (PDF) »

USCCB: Adult Stem Cells proven therapeutic success »

USCCB: "Practical Problems with Embryonic Stem Cell Research"  »

Former DIrector of NIH: "Why Embryonic Stem Cells are Obsolete" »

"Dolly" scientist urges researchers to abandon embryonic research »

Geron shuts down world's first embryonic stem cell trials »

Stem cell scorecard »

Church Teaching

Life Issues

"Human life is sacred. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society."

-- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 44

Every person is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, invaluable and worthy of respect, a fellow member of the human family. From the moment of conception to natural death, each human being -- from the tiniest embryo to the frailest elderly person, from the recent immigrant to the loneliest homeless person to the convicted prisoner -- has an inherent God-given dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Church teaching tells us that we must integrate this belief in the dignity of all human life into our society on behalf of the common good.


mother and child"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2270

"Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or in any condition. In our society, human life is especially under direct attack from abortion."

-- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 44

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

"Because it should be treated as a person from conception, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed like every other human being."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2323

"Because every human life is sacred, our Church embraces scientific and medical advances that save lives, cure diseases, and improve health, as long as those advances are not made by exploiting, harming, or killing another member of our human family."

-- Virginia Bishops pastoral letter, Science at the Service of Life

Euthanasia - Assisted Suicide


"As Catholic leaders and moral teachers, we believe that life is the most basic gift of a loving God -- a gift over which we have stewardship but not absolute dominion. Our tradition, declaring a moral obligation to care for our own life and health and to seek such care from others, recognizes that we are not morally obligated to use all available medical procedures in every set of circumstances. But that tradition clearly and strongly affirms that as a responsible steward of life one must never directly intend to cause one's own death, or the death of an innocent victim, by action or omission. As the Second Vatican Council declared, "euthanasia and willful suicide" are "offenses against life itself" which "poison civilization"; they "debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the creator."

-- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Administrative Committee
Statement on Euthanasia, 1991


Death Penalty

Virginia Bishops call for radical shift in Commonwealth's death penalty debate

Instead of arguing how to execute, legislators should end capital punishment in VA. See Bishop DiLorenzo and Loverde's statement here (in SpanishKorean, and Vietnamese)

"In Catholic teaching the state has the recourse to impose the death penalty upon criminals convicted  of heinous crimes if this ultimate sanction is the only available means to protect society from a grave threat to human life. However, this right should not be exercised when other ways are available to punish criminals and to protect society that are more respectful of human life." 


-- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death
, November 2005


-- See also Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2267