- Written by Maria Huemmer, Communication Director, Texas Catholic Conference
August 6, 2012
In a letter
to Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Texas' Catholic bishops appealed for a stay of execution for Marvin Wilson scheduled for August 7.
The Catholic Church has long opposed the death penalty out of respect for all human life and sees capital punishment as perpetuating a cycle of violence and vengeance. In this case, the Bishops were particularly troubled by Wilson’s history of mental retardation, ever since his childhood amid poverty in the 1960s. A 2004 psychological exam measured Wilson's IQ at just 61--well below Texas' benchmark for mental retardation of an IQ of 70 or below. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional when used to execute persons with mental retardation and “their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses."
The bishops assured their support and prayers for Jerry Williams, whom Wilson is convicted of killing, and the families of all involved. "We stand in solidarity with victims and their loved ones, however, when it comes to matters of life and death, morality and common sense call for justice, mercy, and for careful safeguards," the letter stated.
“Showing mercy does not mean neglecting to administer justice or punish people for their crimes. Showing mercy does mean exhibiting compassion toward all of our brothers and sisters, and providing them with an opportunity for atonement and rehabilitation,” wrote the Bishops.
A copy of the Bishops’ letter is available on the Texas Catholic Conference web site here