At Thursday night’s debate in Fort Collins, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez spoke about a private conversation he had with Archbishop Charles Chaput on the death penalty.
The comment came in response to a question asked by Kyle Clark of 9News who asked: “Mister Beauprez, you have said that your opposition to abortion is rooted in your strong Catholic faith. You have called elected pro-choice Catholic Democrats ‘heretics.’ I’m curious how you came to decide that your church is right on sanctity of life for the unborn, but wrong on sanctity of life as it applies to the death penalty, which you support.”
Beauprez responded: “Because I’ve talked to, let me quote him, Archbishop Charles Chaput. And people are very confused about this and that’s why I went to him, as, I think, a credible source on what Church doctrine is. Many Catholic clergy believe, as the governor now says he does, that they’re anti-death penalty. But the archbishop made it very clear to me. He said, ‘Bob, you pray on it, sleep on it, reach the conclusion that is right for your soul and, he said, I’ll back you up, because Church doctrine is not anti-death penalty.’ I want to be very clear about that.”
Clark followed up: “Pope Francis recently said that the death penalty should not be used, even in the case of a terrible crime, but you feel that the archbishop told you otherwise?”
Beauprez answered: “Yes … the archbishop was very clear on that. He said there are many in the clergy that have a policy position and that’s the difference between that and Church doctrine. A policy position that is opposed to the death penalty. And that’s fine. I’ll just stipulate: There’s moral reasons to be anti-death penalty.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said through a spokesman that Archbishop Chaput would be unable to comment on a private conversation between himself and the gubernatorial candidate.
However, they added that “Scripture and long Church teaching uphold the basic legitimacy of the death penalty. But, the Church also teaches that in the developed world, the circumstances requiring the death penalty for the purposes of justice and public safety rarely exist. Therefore the death penalty should not be used.”