Catholic bishops in the United States are renewing their stand against the death penalty in relation to one state which has recently agreed to the use of judicial executions.
Bishop William F Murphy has written to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to urge him to sign into law a bill to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico which has been passed by both the House and Senate.
His letter has the backing and endorsement of the whole Bishops' Conference.
Bishop Murphy, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote: "I ... urge you to sign HB 285, ending the use of the death penalty in New Mexico."
The letter continued: "Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, have called for the end to the use of the death penalty as a sign of greater respect for all human life. In A Culture of Life and the Death Penalty, the bishops wrote, "Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity. The legislation before you would help to begin building a culture of life in our country."
The appeal concluded: "I hope and pray that you will take this essential step by signing HB 285 and make New Mexico a leader in turning away from the death penalty with all its moral problems and issues of fairness and justice."