LINCOLN – The three bishops in charge of the 375,000 Catholics in 350 Nebraska parishes have officially come out as opponents of the death penalty, as the issue takes center stage with a statewide vote coming in November.
On Thursday, Tom Venzor executive director of the Catholic Conference of Nebraska and public policy voice of the three Nebraska bishops, says the bishops all agree that the death penalty “is not necessary to protect society.”
This comes just one month before Nebraskans will vote to either keep the repeal of the death penalty, that state legislators made law in May of 2015, or to bring back the option of the death penalty.
The recommendation from the three bishops, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha and Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of the Grand Island diocese, comes as no surprise with all three pledging their support for the initial repeal of the death penalty in 2015.
They said at that time they don’t believe that the penalty of death is a just option.
“Justice requires punishment, but it does not require that those who have committed serious crimes be put to death.”
In the Thursday news conference, Venzor called the death penalty “a broken system” and also cited the fact that the past three popes, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and current Pope Francis, all spoke against capital punishment.
Other reasons Venzor recommends Catholics vote RETAIN on November 8th, include the possibility of wrongful convictions, minority discrimination, the long appeals process and high taxpayer costs associated with the death penalty.