“Brutality of the Death Penalty Disregards Human Dignity”01 May

Clayton Lockett died of heart attack after botched execution in Oklahoma. File Photo, OK Department Of Corrections 

The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on Tuesday evening clearly demonstrates the horror associated with the use of this punishment in the United States. In a prepared statement Archbishop Paul Coakley said:

The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether.

Citizens across the U. S. grasped the obscenity of this killing. In his role as chairperson of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, of which the Conference is a member, Fr. Delahanty received this email from a Kentuckian who has had concerns about the use of the death penalty and been putting off taking action:

The news out of Oklahoma however has prompted me to reach out today.  I would like to know what I can do as a citizen who is disturbed by the use of murder to discourage murder to change our society’s perception of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty also issued a statement in both English and Spanish and concluded:

The botched execution of Mr. Lockett is another stark reminder to us all that life is a freely given, sacred gift from God. It should not be ended, except at the time of His choosing.

The CMN website has a wealth of information for Catholics about the church’s teaching regarding the death penalty and includes curriculum for teachers and others engaged in the education and formation of the faithful of all ages.

The Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Charities office prepares monthly prayer suggestions and is focusing in May on the death penalty. This month’s prayer begins:

Merciful Father, we ask your blessing on all we do to build a culture of life. Hear our prayers for those impacted by the death penalty.

We will not bring an end to the death penalty in Kentucky without the advocacy of individuals like those who read this post. Contacting state legislators is essential. Pressing them to give up the use of executions for both moral and practical reasons must take place. If you, like the person who sent the email quoted above, want to become involved, please contact us at the Catholic Conference or visit the website of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and become a supporter with your time, talent, and treasure. Working together we can end the death penalty in this state before we have our own botched execution, or, worse,  execute an innocent person.

If you want to download the statements from the Catholic Mobilizing Network or the prayer service prepared by Catholic Charities for use in parishes and other settings, click on these links: Response to Execution of Clayton Lockett – English, Spanish; Prayer for Life, Catholic Charities.

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