Conservative Oklahoma Archbishop Speaks Out Against The Death Penalty

According to the publication “Patheos,” on April 30th last year – the day after the bungled execution of Oklahoma prisoner Clayton Lockett – the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the unprecedented execution of the convicted killer underscored the brutality of the death penalty and urged Oklahomans to weigh carefully the demands of justice and mercy.

On April 29, in McAlester, Oklahoma, the planned execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett – using a new three-drug lethal injection protocol – failed.

It left Lockett showing unexpected signs of pain and Oklahoma prison officials decided to halt the proceedings. Lockett reportedly later died of a “heart attack.”

Paul Coakley, the Catholic archbishop, said: “How we treat criminals says a lot about us as a society.”

He stated, “We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” said Coakley.

“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” he said, according to Patheos.

“In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in last night’s execution in any way – including Lockett himself, his family, prison officials and others who witnessed the event. My compassion and prayers go out especially to the family of Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett was convicted of killing.”


(Updated post to remove the term “Catholic publication”)

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