US Bishops call for death penalty to be abolished 

By Vatican News staff writer

Jan 13 2021

US Bishops call on the government to halt federal executions due to go ahead this month, and ask Congress to abolish the death penalty.

With three more federal executions scheduled in January, the Chairmen of the US Bishops Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, have renewed their call to President Trump and the Acting Attorney General to stop federal executions. 

Call to Congress

In a statement, the Bishops also urge the new Congress and President-elect Joe Biden to “make this a priority.”

In addition, they ask President-elect Biden to “declare a moratorium on federal executions and to commute current federal death sentences to terms of imprisonment.”

In a letter to every member of the US Congress, the Bishops say, “The terrible loss suffered by victims’ families must be considered as well. We encourage lawmakers to redirect the energy and resources that currently go towards executions to provide compassionate and professional assistance to the families of victims.”

They also note that successive Popes, from Saint John Paul II to Pope Francis, have called “for an end to the death penalty in the United States and around the world.”

As the Bishops point out, “Every person is created in the image and likeness of God, and we encourage everyone to work to rid the death penalty from our state and federal laws and to develop greater appreciation for the sacred dignity of every human life.”

This latest plea by US Bishops follows a year in which the federal government, for the first time, executed more people than all fifty states combined.

Latest executions

Among those who were due to be executed this week is Lisa Montgomery.

She was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday. However, a judge has now granted her a stay of execution to decide whether she is competent to be put to death on mental health grounds.

Montegormery was sentenced to death for killing 23-year-old pregnant woman Bobbie Jo Stinnett at her home in Missouri, before cutting out and kidnapping her baby.

Another death row inmate who is due to die by lethal injection is Cory Johnson. His execution is set for 14 January.