Catholic Bishops Protest Upcoming Executions; Say Death Penalty Contributes to "Culture of Death"
There are two executions scheduled to take place in Arizona in the next week, and Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference aren't happy about it.
The group issued a statement on the matter this morning, which you can read in its entirety below.
At the outset of this statement, we express our compassion for those who are victims of brutal crimes and for their families. The effects of murder, in particular, are truly awful for families, and we pray for the healing of all those who grieve and suffer because of murder.As Arizona approaches two scheduled executions, we are compelled to express again our opposition to the use of the death penalty in our state.We firmly hold that capital punishment is state-sanctioned vengeance that is not in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hold that capital punishment - when other means are available to keep society safe from dangerous criminals - denies the intrinsic dignity and sanctity of human life.The commission of a heinous crime, especially one in which a life has been taken, should result in punishment.But, the use of the death penalty - when other means are available to keep society safe - is actually a contribution to a "culture of death." It is an act of eye-for-an-eye vengeance that contradicts the values of our nation and that denies the dignity and sanctity of human life.Pope John Paul II, an ardent defender of human life on the world stage, articulated that the use of capital punishment should be limited only to extremely rare situations where it is necessary to defend society (Evangelium Vitae, #56). Executions in our state do not defend anyone, and are therefore wrong.We, the Catholic Bishops of Arizona, call for an end to the unnecessary violence of the death penalty.We pray that the dignity and sanctity of human life at every stage be respected and protected.
That said, the two men approaching their dates with death did some pretty awful things -- and they've been rotting in prison on the taxpayers' dime for a collective 46 years.
Daniel Wayne Cook was convicted of the 1987 murders of two men in Lake Havasu City, during which he raped and tortured the men before strangling them to death. He was sentenced to death and sat on death row for more than 24 years as his case worked its way through the court system. He's scheduled to be executed on April 5.
The other man, Eric John King, murdered two people in a 1989 convenience store robbery. Not to mention, before that, he'd spent seven years in prison for rape and kidnapping. His execution is scheduled for tomorrow.