Over 1,000 religious leaders have signed a joint statement calling on President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr to stop the executions scheduled for July and August at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
"As leaders from a variety of traditions, we call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr to stop the federal executions," the group said in the statement released on July 7. "As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis and systemic racism in the criminal justice system, we should focus on protecting and sustaining life, not executions."
The four men to be executed are: Daniel Lee on July 13; Wesley Purkey on July 15th; Dustin Honken on July 17th; and Keith Nelson on August 28th. The men were convicted of killing children in separate crimes.
Among the Catholic leaders who signed the statement were: Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky; Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro, Kentucky; retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, who is apostolic administrator of the Joliet, Illinois diocese; Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City; Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa; and Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, director of Homeboy Industries, an Los Angeles-based organization that trains and supports formerly gang-based and previously detained men and women.
Other signatories were Episcopal and Methodist church leaders and the leaders of other religious organizations.
Barr announced last year that the federal government would reintroduce the federal death penalty. At the same time, he said that the executions would use a single drug instead of a three-drug protocol that has been used in recent federal and multi-state executions.
The planned application of the one-drug method led to legal challenges by some of the federal death row inmates. The lawsuit found its way to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court said on June 29 that it would hear no appeal by inmates who questioned the method of their upcoming executions and paved the way for the executions. Barr announced the execution dates on June 15.
"I am moved by the testimony of the Catholic bishops, clergymen, religious men and women in the United States and people in pews who are against the severe reboot of federal executions," said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network. what the faith leaders' statement published.
"Your loyal advocacy is a strong example of what it means to be uncompromising in defending human dignity and the sanctity of life," she said.
Carlos Malave, Executive Director of Christian Churches Together, who was one of the signatories, said: "As an evangelical, I am broken that our country is killing its citizens again. We have seen so much death in recent months and people are injured. Restarting we should be furthest away from executions during a pandemic. "
Bishop Pates added: "The Church believes that just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation. Executions perpetuate only a deeply flawed and broken system that contradicts the Gospel call, the dignity of all human beings To honor life. "