Archbishop Coakley: Join the pope for a better justice

In a video released Wednesday — promoting his monthly call to worldwide prayer — Pope Francis announced he has chosen this September to ask us to pray for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. “Each day, there is a growing ‘no’ to the death penalty around the world. For the Church, this is a sign of hope.”

According to the Catholic Mobilizing Network, there are at least 28,670 men and women on death row throughout the world. That number doesn’t include the few countries whose governments often do not report reliable numbers. More than 2,400 of these men and women are on death row in the United States. It is shameful and unnecessary, and Pope Francis calls it completely unacceptable.

In my own state of Oklahoma, after six years without executions, the governor and attorney general announced an extremely aggressive schedule of execution, killing 25 people in the next 28 months. The first of these, James Coddington, was executed this past week. As the Gospels and Pope Francis have challenged us, we must choose a new path of mercy that values every human life, protects society and stops the cycle of violence that perpetuates a throwaway culture.

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