WASHINGTON —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 in light of additional federal executions this week and new executions set in September:
“The Church’s opposition to the death penalty is clear, and we have made many requests that the federal government should not resume these executions. Yet, not only has the government done so, they have scheduled even more executions. After the first three in July, there are two this week, and two more at the end of September.
“We know from scripture that God created each of us in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). This gives each person an irrevocable dignity, despite their sinfulness. When the Pharisees wanted to put to death the adulterous woman, they put the question to Jesus in this way: ‘Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ (Jn. 8:5). We must not forget the Lord’s answer! Remembering the Lord’s call for mercy, we renew our plea: 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.
- A USCCB action alert continues to allow Catholics to raise their voices in opposition to the death penalty.