WASHINGTON — With more federal executions scheduled in December and January, two bishop chairmen call on the Administration to recall God’s mercy during Advent. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:
“We’ve asked many times to stop the federal executions. In fact, last Advent, three bishops wrote that the resumption of federal executions was at odds with this season of anticipated redemption. But the executions resumed. Eight since July. Two more this week. Three in January. A new regulation will permit federal execution by means other than lethal injection, such as the electric chair.
“What does the birth of our Lord say to this? The Lord comes not to destroy, but to save. For the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear St. Peter counsel that the Lord ‘is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Pt. 3:9). Can we follow the Lord’s example?
“We are all sinners. Some have done terrible things. Victims need help. Justice is needed for peace. But executions solve nothing.
“This Advent, the Lord comes to love us even though we don’t deserve it. Let us repent and embrace his gift. We call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr, in recognition of God’s unmerited gift of self-giving love: stop these executions.”
For additional USCCB statements and resources on the death penalty and the recent resumption of federal executions:
- In July of 2019, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, then-chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the administration to abandon plans to resume federal executions.
- In October 2019, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory* and Bishop Frank J. Dewane participated in a roundtable discussion for the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
- Archbishop Coakley, Archbishop Gregory* and Bishop Dewane co-authored an op-ed in America Magazine in December 2019.
- The USCCB restated its opposition to the death penalty in an amicus curiae brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2020.
- Archbishop Coakley called on Attorney General Barr and President Trump to reverse course on the executions after the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of the death row inmates in June 2020.
- Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in August 2020 urging the administration to stop the executions.
- Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in September 2020 asking the administration to forgo the executions.
- Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann renewed their call to end executions in a statement in November 2020.
- A USCCB action alert continues to allow Catholics to raise their voices in opposition to the death penalty.
*Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis on November 28, 2020.