A national group of Catholic priests is asking the governor of Arkansas to commute the death sentences of eight men, scheduled to be executed in April. A letter March 22 from Father Bernard “Bob” Bonnot to Gov. Asa Hutchison asks “that you commute the sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole.”
Bonnot chairs the leadership team of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, with nearly 1,200 members in dioceses and religious communities throughout the United States. In part, the priests assert that every execution “risks the execution of an innocent man” and “sustains the status of the United States as the only major nation in the developed world that continues this unnecessary mode of justice.”
The priests also state that execution “ends any hope of rehabilitating the individual” and that following required legal processes “costs more . . . than to sustain such inmates through life in prison.” Executions are “an attack on the dignity of human persons” and “a remnant of barbaric times,” the priests concluded. “Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops have called for abolition of the death penalty. We stand with them."
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