Missouri’s four Catholic bishops urge heads of state to end executions | Faith and values

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The four Catholic Bishops of Missouri, from left to right: Archbishop of St. Louis Mitchell Rozanski, Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston Jr., Jefferson City Bishop Shawn McKnight and Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop Edward Rice


The leaders of the four Catholic dioceses of Missouri are urging the state to end the application of the death penalty, after the execution of a murderer convicted for three people despite a request for clemency from the pope.

Ernest Lee Johnson was executed Tuesday night, the first execution in Missouri in 16 months and the seventh in the United States this year. Johnson, 61, admitted to killing convenience store workers Mary Bratcher, Mabel Scruggs and Fred Jones during a closing robbery in Columbia in 1994.

In a letter last week asking Republican Gov. Mike Parson to grant clemency, a representative for Pope Francis wrote that the Pope “wishes to put before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sanctity of all. human life ”. Parson, a Baptist, refused to intervene.

On Wednesday, a statement signed by Archbishop of St. Louis Mitchell Rozanski, Kansas City-St. Bishop Joseph James Johnston Jr., Bishop of Jefferson City Shawn McKnight and Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Edward Rice have expressed disappointment with Parson’s decision.

“Ernest Lee Johnson’s crimes were heinous and deserve to be punished, but as Missouri has proven to be a pro-life state, we should stop using the death penalty as a way to deal with violent crime.” , indicates the press release.

Johnson’s attorneys have said in the pardon petition and court records that repeated IQ tests show Johnson is intellectually disabled and his execution would violate the U.S. Constitution. He also suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and lost a significant amount of brain tissue when a benign tumor was removed in 2008.


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