Vatican, other faith leaders join in push for end of death penalty in Louisiana

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — The Vatican has joined U.S. faith leaders and anti-death penalty activists in supporting the Louisiana governor’s desire to clear the death row cells in his state.Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Catholic Democrat, called in August for the Louisiana Board of Pardons to reconsider applications for clemency of 56 prisoners on the state’s death row. While the state has only executed one person in two decades, Louisiana, along with 26 other states in the U.S., still permits the death penalty. 
Twenty applications have been scheduled for clemency hearings in the next two months by the Louisiana Board of Pardons. Only one person on death row is not among the state’s clemency requests, NPR reported. 
“Much like you, the Catholic Church believes that our society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of individuals who have been convicted of crimes,” wrote Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, in a Tuesday (Sept. 26) letter. “We respectfully urge you to exercise all powers vested in your office to encourage the Board of Pardons to docket the 36 remaining applicants.”
Paglia added: “We think that the clearing of Louisiana’s death row would be a monumental step towards the abolition of the death penalty, that would deserve to be also an example to other states.”
The day before the Vatican letter, a …

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