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