The Texas Case

The church teaches that "every life has value and dignity. That is a given," said Andy Rivas, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference during a Feb. 24 program at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington. Rivas helped devise a program of events in Texas in November that sought to link the issues. The day started with a Mass at a chapel in Huntsville, Texas, celebrated by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, which attracted an overflow crowd. After Mass, most people walked about a mile to a Planned Parenthood clinic in the town; some who had trouble walking stayed behind for eucharistic adoration. After praying outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, the group prayed a "rosary for life" while walking another mile or so to the state prison in Huntsville, where all the states executions are carried out.   

But in trying to curb the use of the death penalty in the Lone Star State, Texas Catholics have had to "pick and choose" the individual cases they think would merit the attention of the governor. Cardinal DiNardo in such cases writes a letter of support for sparing the prisoner, as does the bishop of the diocese where the crime occurred. "Its always helpful to have an archbishop or a cardinal write," Rivas said.

But a recent state effort to expand the application of the death penalty, despite Texas Catholic Conference lobbying efforts against it, passed overwhelmingly. "There are 33 Catholics in the Legislature. We had only two vote our way," said Rivas.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Death-row inmate Ledell Lee. A ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier says was misleadingly obtained cleared the way for Arkansas to execute Ledell Lee on Thursday, April 20, 2017, although he still had pending requests for reprieve. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP)
To take Holy Communion in the face of death is to say that it is fellowship, and not food, that matters most.
Terrance KleinApril 26, 2017
A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
“Peace be with you” was the message of the Risen Jesus to his disciples on the first Easter, and it is the message Francis will bring to the Muslim and Christian communities in this land.
Gerard O'ConnellApril 26, 2017
Pope Francis is presented with a football helmet by Michigan football team coach Jim Harbaugh during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Coach Jim Harbaugh presented a custom Wolverines helmet and a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers to Pope Francis.
Michael J. O'LoughlinApril 26, 2017
The 'Hamlet'-inspired play made the playwright Tom Stoppard an overnight sensation.
David StewartApril 26, 2017