Catholic Leaders Urge Clemency for Texas Mother Facing Execution Despite Strong Innocence Claim

For Immediate Release: Feb. 28, 2022
Contact: Moira Greaney at
Website: Twitter: @CMNEndtheDP

(Washington, D.C.) With an April 27, 2022 execution date looming, Catholic leaders are calling on Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Melissa Lucio, a Mexican-American mother and practicing Catholic with a strong claim of innocence.

“Every execution — regardless of guilt — violates the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life and dignity of the human person,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN). “Yet the risk of the state taking an innocent life is especially concerning. Texas must grant clemency to Melissa Lucio — to do anything else would be an irreversible injustice.”

Melissa was convicted of killing her two-year-old daughter, Mariah, in 2008, despite significant evidence suggesting her death wasn’t actually a homicide, but an accidental head injury she sustained in a fall.

Mere hours after her daughter’s tragic death, Melissa, who is a survivor of lifelong sexual and domestic and abuse, was subjected to an aggressive, five-hour, late-night interrogation until, physically and emotionally exhausted, she said, “I guess I did it.”

At the time of her arrest, Melissa had no record of violence. Thousands of pages of protective service records and recorded interviews with her children show that she was not abusive.

Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of Brownsville, Texas gave the following statement in support for Melissa’s clemency: “I want to say a word to the People of the Valley about Melissa Lucio’s pending execution. Death is not the answer to death. One tragedy is not somehow made better by killing someone else. Justice is not suddenly restored because another person dies. Executing Melissa will not bring peace to her surviving children, it will only bring more pain and suffering. I urge the State of Texas to commute Melissa’s death sentence. Let us not give up on her life. I ask everyone to work and pray to end the death penalty in Texas and in this country.”
Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, has also called for Melissa’s clemency, saying: “We are created in God’s image and as such we must commit to protecting every human being and caring for their soul. People of goodwill understand that an act of violence cannot be overcome with another act of violence. The execution of Melissa Lucio would be a tragedy. Members of her own family, especially her children, are pleading for Melissa’s life to be spared. Our faith teaches us that our response must be rooted in justice and mercy. Together let us pray to bring an end to the death penalty so that we may develop a greater love and respect for the sacred dignity of human life.”

Catholic Mobilizing Network is working in collaboration with the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops to call on all Catholics and people of goodwill to join in the national effort to urge Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Melissa Lucio. 


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 lives the Spirit of Unity of its sponsor, the Congregation of St. Joseph.