AUSTIN – The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, representing the 21 active bishops in the state, were relieved to hear the news of the March 23 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to grant John Ramirez’ request to have his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him as the State of Texas executes him. The bishops of Texas issued the following statement:
“Mercy must accompany justice in our response to violence. State-sanctioned executions are a merciless and violent response which makes our society increasingly merciless and violent, as well as unjust. As we wrote in a pastoral statement in 2016, capital punishment reduces our hearts’ capacity for mercy and love.”
“Allowing a prisoner to seek mercy at the moment of his death should be a minimal expectation of our society. When a person’s life is already being taken from him is it too much to simply provide that person with a warm touch and a prayerful presence?
“The ministerial presence of a chaplain underscores that religious freedom with the integrity of the conscience is a matter of human dignity not forfeited by the commission of grave crimes committed against life.
“Even with this decision, the killing of John Ramirez will not provide healing to the family and friends of Pablo Castro, nor will it result in justice for John Ramirez. For the sake of all impacted by this tragedy, for the affirmation of the inestimable value of human life, and for the common good, John Ramirez’ life should be spared.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas. The TCCB represents 15 dioceses and 21 active bishops. Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice, accredit the state's Catholic schools, and maintain archives that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.