In 1974, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), "by a substantial majority, voted to declare its opposition to capital punishment" (source). In 1980, it reaffirmed this stance in the Bishop's Statement on Capital Punishment, specifically calling for the abolition of the death penalty. And in 2005, it published a longer work along the same lines, called A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.
Thus in the United States there has been consistent opposition to the death penalty by at least a majority of Catholic bishops for nearly 45 years. Yet, according to Pew Research, as of the spring of 2018, a majority of American Catholics (53%) favor it.
Pew Research indicates that support for the death penalty among Americans in general has been trending down since at least 1996, so I suspect that support from Catholics has also declined. However, I'd like to better understand the trend. Since 1974, when the USCCB formally came out against the death penalty:
- Has US Catholic support for the death penalty declined faster than among the general US population?
- Has US Catholic support for the death penalty declined faster than among Protestants?
I'm particularly curious because the New York Times is quoting numerous Catholics who believe that the recent change to the Catechism will lead to more widespread rejection of capital punishment among Catholics. This certainly seems probable, but particularly so if Catholic opinion has already been following the opinion of its bishops and transitioning toward opposition.