To reiterate his opposition to the death penalty, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, released the following statement about multiple executions scheduled in Arkansas.
I join with Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Arkansas and other faith leaders in the region in calling for the Governor of Arkansas to halt the remaining executions scheduled for this week.
A judge has deemed one of the drugs the state uses in executions to cause a ‘substantial risk of serious harm’ so the state will not have access to it as of April 30. The governor, in an attempt to use what the state has on hand, scheduled eight executions in 10 days. One execution has already taken place and several more are set for later this week, including a double-execution set for Monday. This does not represent the pursuit of justice.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued a statement on these scheduled executions April 13. “The schedule of executions was not set by the demands of justice, but by the arbitrary politics of punishment. The state’s supply of a sedative is expected to expire at the end of the month, and so, in a dark irony, a safeguard that was intended to protect people is now being used as a reason to hasten their deaths,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice and committee chairman wrote.
As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of life in all its stages. Execution does not allow room for conversion nor does it provide healing to crime victims, their families or our communities.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson
The Diocese of Jackson joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a call for prayer to end all violence. We urge everyone to engage in nonviolent, but necessary dialogue to identify and address the issues facing our nation today.
July 8, 2016
WASHINGTON—Following the deadly attacks on police officers in Dallas, during a protest rally in response to the killings of two men in Louisiana and Minnesota, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops extended a call to prayer, reflection, civility and peaceful dialogue.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued the following statement July 8. Let Us Gather at the Cross
A statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The assassination of Dallas police officers last night was an act of unjustifiable evil. To all people of good will, let us beg for the strength to resist the hatred that blinds us to our common humanity. To my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us gather at the Cross of Jesus. Our Savior suffered at the hands of humanity’s worst impulses, but He did not lose hope in us or in His heavenly father. Love overcomes evil.
The police are not a faceless enemy. They are sons and daughters offering their lives to protect their brothers and sisters. Jesus reminds us, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (JN 15:13). So too, the suspects in crimes or routine traffic stops are not just a faceless threat. They are members of our family in need of assistance, protection and fairness. When compassion does not drive our response to the suffering of either, we have failed one another.
The need to place ever greater value on the life and dignity of all persons, regardless of their station in life, calls us to a moment of national reflection. In the days ahead, we will look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity, and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.
Let us pray for the comfort of everyone affected and that our national conversation will bear the good fruit of healing and peace.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, tragedy, attacks, violence, Dallas, race relations, mental health, economic opportunity, restorative justice, gun violence