Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the Execution of Lisa Montgomery
Early this morning, the federal government executed Lisa Montgomery, 52, who was convicted in 2007 of the heinous crime of strangling a mother to death and cutting out the baby she had been carrying. The child survived and is being raised by her father. Before the execution, a judge deemed Lisa Montgomery likely mentally ill and unable to understand the punishment she would receive. Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the path for the government to execute her.
This execution is just the latest in a string of capital punishments carried out by the federal government, after former Attorney General William Barr decided in July 2019 to reverse the moratorium on federal executions that had been in place since 2003. Last year, the federal government executed more people than all 50 states combined.
With the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I call on President Donald Trump to stop these executions, and on President-elect Joseph Biden to reinstate the moratorium on the federal death penalty. There is a reason Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to make capital punishment “inadmissible.” Every human being is created in the image of God. This God-given dignity is not erased when a person commits a crime—no matter how grotesque it may be. This is the nature of the divine gift of life: our dignity endures, despite our worst efforts to deface it. To endorse capital punishment is to embrace despair, for, as Pope Francis put it in his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, “[A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”