The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Bishop backing bill to end capital punishment in state

Published: March 22, 2013   

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, who testified before a Senate committee Jan. 30 urging the state to abolish the death penalty, is asking all Catholics to contact their state senator and representative to vote for Senate Bill 1055, which would end capital punishment in Arkansas.

The bishop sent a letter dated March 21 to pastors to share with their parishioners on Palm Sunday, March 24. Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock filed the bill March 11

“It simply removes the word punishable by ‘death’ for crimes of capital murder or treason. It leaves in place the punishment of ‘imprisonment for life without parole,’” Bishop Taylor wrote.

“As you are aware, Pope John Paul II taught in his encyclical ‘The Gospel of Life,’ that on the problem of the death penalty ... there is a growing tendency, both in the church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely,’” the bishop wrote. “John Paul states that the punishment ‘ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’”

The bishop is asking Catholics to call or e-mail their legislators immediately by visiting If you don’t know the names of your legislators, enter your address at to get their names.

“I would ask you to act promptly in this Holy Week when we commemorate the unjust execution of our Savior Jesus Christ. Let us not perpetuate the execution of the body of Christ through the practice of the death penalty.”

The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said, “If passed, Arkansas would join the 17 other states that have chosen to reject the waste and injustice of capital punishment…. Right now, the single most important way you can contribute is to contact your state legislators and tell them you support SB 1055.”

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