Catholic activists speak out against execution

Ernest Lee Johnson in 2016 photo released by the Missouri Department of Corrections (CNS/Missouri Department of Corrections, handout via Reuters)

Following the execution of Ernest Johnson at a US prison in Missouri this week, Catholic opponents of the death penalty said it didn’t have to happen. Source: Crux.

“Ernest Johnson should not have been executed. He was intellectually disabled and categorically ineligible for the death penalty. Ernest was a human being. He committed a terrible crime and was deeply remorseful. This was not justice,” tweeted Sr Helen Prejean, a Sister of St Joseph of Medaille, who is a long-time death penalty opponent.

“Our work to end the death penalty, a system that targets some of our most vulnerable members of society, continues,” tweeted Catholics Mobilising Against the Death Penalty, after Johnson was executed at 6.11pm local time by lethal injection.

Johnson, 61, was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 and sentenced to death for killing three employees of a Columbia, Missouri, convenience store.

An statement from Missouri’s Catholic bishops, issued by the state’s Catholic conference on Wednesday, said they were disappointed with the state’s decision to move forward with Johnson’s execution.

“Ernest Lee Johnson’s crimes were heinous and deserve to be punished, yet as Missouri has shown itself to be a pro-life state, we should stop using the death penalty as a means of dealing with violent crimes,” the bishops said.

Pope Francis joined calls for clemency for Johnson, expressed in a September 27 letter from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, nuncio to the United States, to the Missouri governor.


Catholic activists speak out against execution of Missouri man (By Carol Zimmerman, CNS via Crux

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