‘Dead Man Walking’ author to speak at virtual event

Scott Langley
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will speak in a virtual event hosted by Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa-Iowa City on Oct. 21

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will speak on “Becoming a Voice for Justice” during a livestream event Oct. 21, hosted by Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa-Iowa City. During the event, which will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m., Sister Prejean will speak about activism, faithful citizenship and the death penalty.

“Sister Helen is a dynamic speaker and storyteller about activism, solidarity and justice,” said Laurie Harris, Newman Center’s business director. “She gives voice to the voiceless, advocates for the abolishment of capital punishment and working for justice. As our society struggles to come to terms with racial, social and economic inequality, the timing could not be better.”

Sister Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States,” has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty since she began working with inmates the early 1980s. Her book ignited a national debate on capital punishment and inspired an Academy Award-winning movie, a play and an opera, according to her website.


Over the decades, Sister Prejean has made personal appeals to two popes, John Paul II and Pope Francis, urging them to establish the Catholic Church’s position as unequivocally opposed to capital punishment under any circumstances. After Sister Prejean’s urging, Pope John Paul II revised the catechism to strengthen the church’s opposition to executions, although it allowed for a very few exceptions. Not long after meeting with Sister Prejean in August 2018, Pope Francis announced new language in the Catechism that declares the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, with no exceptions.

To register for the event, go to www.iowa catholic.org. The event is free, thanks to the sponsorship of the Louise Wolf-Novak Service and Social Justice Endowment.

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