August 15, 2019

We, the bishops of the three dioceses in Tennessee in conjunction with the Catholic Public

Policy Commission, clearly state our strong opposition to the state carrying out the death

penalty today. Carrying out this execution does not serve the cause of justice and bucks the

trend of states across the country moving away from the use of capital punishment.

Nationally, we have seen many people released from death row after they have been found to

have been innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. Based on a human system as

it is, there is always the chance that the state executes an innocent person. Even when guilt

is certain, the execution is not necessary to protect society.

Pope Francis as well as St. John Paul II have called for the end to the death penalty as both

cruel and unnecessary. It is simply not necessary as the only means to protect society while

still providing a just punishment for those who break civil laws. Rather than serving as a

path to justice, the death penalty contributes to the growing disrespect for human life

and continues a cycle of violence in society.

We pray for the victims of crime and their families and friends that they might find peace and

healing in God’s boundless love. We pray particularly for Wanda and Sheila Romines who

Stephen Michael West was convicted of murdering. We pray for Mr. West that he, like all sinners,

might find mercy in God’s eternal judgment. And, we pray for the people of Tennessee, that

through our elected government, we might turn to the path that respects and defends human

life from its beginning at conception to its end at a natural death.

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Richard F. Stika

Bishop of Knoxville

Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding

Bishop of Nashville

Most Reverend David P. Talley

Bishop of Memphis


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