Two US bishops are calling for an end to the death penalty in the US and a suspension of planned executions. “We renew our call to President Trump and Acting Attorney General Rosen: Stop these executions.”
That is what the statement published on Monday (local time) said by Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Episcopal Committee on Justice and Human Development, and Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the Episcopal Committee on the Protection of Life.
“After a year in which the federal government has for the first time executed more people than all 50 states combined, three more federal executions are planned this week,” the archbishops criticized. Federal executions resumed last year after a break of 17 years.
Coakley and Naumann also urged President-elect Joe Biden and Congress to make abolition of the death penalty a priority and to enact federal law to ban it. In addition, Biden should impose a moratorium on federal executions and convert the current death sentences into prison terms.
At least ten times in the past two years, bishops, episcopal groups, or the entire US Bishops Conference had either spoken out against the death penalty, asked believers to cast their voices on the issue, or tried to stop planned executions in court.
Court stops execution
Meanwhile, a court in Indiana has suspended the execution of a convicted murderer, scheduled for Tuesday. The brain-damaged Lisa Montgomery is currently mentally “far removed from reality” and can therefore not understand the reason for her death penalty, judged the judges (Monday local time) according to US media reports. But that is the prerequisite for an execution.
Montgomery, 52, would become the first woman to be executed at the US federal level since 1953. She was sentenced to death in December 2004 for the gruesome murder of a 23 year old.
Sant’Egidio calls for Montgomery’s death sentence to be overturned
The Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio has welcomed the suspension of the death penalty for the American Lisa Montgomery. It is to be hoped that the postponement will result in a definitive reversal of the judgment, said Sant’Egidio (Tuesday) in Rome. At the same time, the organization, which has long campaigned for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, campaigned for a signature campaign to convert the sentence for Montgomery.
The 52-year-old would be the first woman to be executed in the United States since 1953. Judge James Hanlon, Indiana, ordered the stay because of Montgomery’s mental health.
In the petition to the US judiciary, Sant’Egidio refers to Pope Francis’ condemnation of the death penalty. This declared executions to be ethically inadmissible because they represented an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person. In 2018, the head of the church changed the Catholic teaching accordingly.
Montgomery had strangled a heavily pregnant woman in 2004 and cut the baby out of her womb. The girl survived and is now 16 years old. Judge Hanlon said according to media reports, according to the available reports, the mentally impaired Montgomery could not understand why she was sentenced to death. That makes an execution impossible.
Also on Monday, a Catholic mobilization network launched an online petition campaign calling on Biden to end federal executions after he took office: After “six months of unnecessary deaths and soon 13 executions,” the Trump administration has shown “why an end.” the federal death penalty is so urgently needed, “read a campaign statement.
The petition urges the new government to “uphold the sacred dignity of every human being” and keep its promises to dismantle the federal capital punishment system.
German federal government is critical
On Monday evening, the German government also criticized the execution of Lisa Montgomery in the USA, which was planned for Tuesday. The 52-year-old would be the first woman to be executed at the US federal level since 1953. She was sentenced to death for the December 2004 murder of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett. The federal government’s human rights commissioner, Bärbel Kofler, urged the outgoing US administration under Donald Trump to refrain from this and two other executions still planned at the federal level.
The federal government rejects the death penalty as a “cruel and inhuman form of punishment under all circumstances,” emphasized Kofler. “Together with our EU partners, we have therefore been campaigning intensively for many years to abolish them worldwide.”