Most Reverend William S. Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane, WA
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee
U.S. Catholic Conference
Opposition to the Execution of Ms. Karla Faye Tucker
January 29, 1998
As Chairman and on behalf of the Domestic Policy Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference, gathered in Washington today, I join in support of Pope John Paul II and the Texas Catholic Conference in calling on Governor George W. Bush to grant clemency to Ms. Karla Faye Tucker.
Since 1974, when the U.S. Bishops formally proclaimed our opposition to capital punishment, we have spoken out consistently on this matter. The upcoming execution of Ms. Tucker only heightens this call. While Ms. Tucker seems to have reformed her life and turned away from the behavior that once led her to commit horrible and grisly crimes, we stand against capital punishment in all cases, even when the murderer appears unrepentant. Our opposition to the use of the death penalty reflects our commitment to human life and human dignity. Executions end a life, deny that dignity and remove any chance for repentance and forgiveness.
Our call for mercy in this case does not in any way detract from the brutality of Ms. Tucker's crime. We can only imagine the depth of the loss felt by the surviving victims. Our prayers and sympathy remain with them.
We believe, however, that capital punishment diminishes all of us and contributes towards a brutal cycle of violence which is all too prevalent in our society. As we have said before, we believe in justice without vengeance. We are unconvinced that our society can teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill.
We urge Governor Bush to heed the calls of our Holy Father, our brother bishops and concerned citizens in Texas and to grant clemency in this case.