Catholics Condemn Texas Protocol Barring Chaplains from Execution Chamber
(Washington, D.C.) Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, joins the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops in opposing a change in Texas execution protocols implemented last April, which bans chaplains and ministers from the execution chamber.
The Texas Bishops filed an amicus brief Friday supporting the First Amendment rights of Ruben Gutierrez, who is scheduled for execution on June 16, 2020 without a chaplain present.
“Catholics and people of all faiths should be profoundly unsettled by Texas’ willingness not only to execute Ruben Gutierrez, but also to deny him the presence of a spiritual advisor,” commented Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of CMN. “Our faith teaches that the death penalty is always inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability of the person. This added indignity of no spiritual accompaniment blatantly disregards the sacred dignity of the human person.”
“To deny a prisoner facing imminent execution access to spiritual and religious guidance and accompaniment is cruel and inhuman. It is an affront to the moral and religious dimensions of human dignity, which are clearly protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” said Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville in a statement released by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Flores also serves as the episcopal advisor of CMN.
In the event the execution moves forward as scheduled on June 16, Ruben Gutierrez will become the first person executed by the state of Texas since the global declaration of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices.
CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a founding member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Mission Network.