U.S. bishops say ‘enough’ on federal executions

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Kan., are seen in this composite photo. CNS composite/ photos by Bob Roller

WASHINGTON. Just hours before the sixth federal execution took place this year, and two days before the next one was scheduled, two U.S. bishops’ committee chairmen called on the government to end this practice.

“We say to President Trump and Attorney General Barr: Enough. Stop these executions,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a statement issued late Sept. 22.

“In the last 60 years, before the Trump administration restarted federal executions, there were only four federal executions. Since July, there have been five, which is already more federal executions than were carried out in any year in the last century,” the bishops said.

They said the Catholic Church “must give concrete help to victims of violence” and “encourage the rehabilitation and restoration of those who commit violence.” They noted that “accountability and legitimate punishment are a part of this process” and emphasized that “responsibility for harm is necessary if healing is to occur and can be instrumental in protecting society.”

“Executions are completely unnecessary and unacceptable, as Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have all articulated,” they added.