The eight Catholic bishops serving Maryland, including Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, Washington Archbishop Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, and Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly, are urging President Donald Trump to stop the planned federal execution of Dustin Higgs, scheduled for Jan. 15, 2021. The bishops today also wrote to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan seeking his support in fighting this execution.
In their letter to President Trump, the bishops wrote, “Alternative sentences, such as life without parole, are punishments through which society can be kept safe. The death penalty does not create a path to justice. Rather, it contributes to the growing disrespect for human life and perpetuates a cycle of violence in our society.”
They also quoted Pope Francis: “Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice." Two years ago, Pope Francis updated the Catholic Catechism to affirm that the use of the death penalty is “inadmissible.”
In their letter to Governor Hogan, the bishops wrote that they are proud of Maryland’s leadership in ending the death penalty and noted, “While we recognize that your powers as Governor of Maryland do not extend to federal death penalty cases, we urge you to intervene with the Trump Administration to ask that this execution be stopped.”
They also recognized the pain of victims and survivors: “We grieve for the victims of violent crime and murder. We recognize the terrible suffering of their families and pray that God will provide them peace and healing.”
Dustin Higgs was convicted of ordering the 1996 murders of Tamika Black, Tanji Jackson, and Mishann Chinn in Prince George’s County. He is in prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The letters’ signatories include Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; Washington Archbishop, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory; and Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly; two Washington auxiliary bishops: Bishop Roy E. Campbell and Bishop Mario Dorsonville; and three additional bishops from Baltimore: Auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker; Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Denis J. Madden; and Auxiliary Bishop Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR.