Last week Pope Francis released a strong mandate against the death penalty: “It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend people’s lives from an unjust aggressor. All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty.” This is currently posted on the website of the Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), whose staff prepares Catholics for informed involvement in campaigns to repeal state laws and initiate restorative justice programs. CMN also has educational materials for all ages and works in collaboration with all state legislative campaigns against the Death Penalty. They ask us to help them respond to our Holy Father’s call to educate, advocate and pray for the respect of the human dignity of all people.
We had a small success this week. The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday halted the execution of Mark Christeson, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01am Wednesday at the Missouri state prison in Bonne Terre. The appeal to the Supreme Court raised several concerns about legal counsel Christeson has received over the years, including the failure of some of his attorneys to meet a 2005 filing deadline for an appeal hearing before a federal court. It is uncommon for someone to be executed without a federal appeal hearing. It is not clear what will happen next, but the case will likely be tied up in court for some time.
Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.