MASON CITY, Iowa - With the execution of convicted mass murderer Dustin Honken set for July 17th, Iowa Catholic bishops have written a letter encouraging President Trump to reduce his sentencing, for a penalty lesser than lethal injection.
In that letter that was sent to the President last week, all 4 bishops in Iowa, including Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels, who oversees much of North and Eastern Iowa, as well as Des Moines Bishop William Joensen, Davenport Bishop Thomas Zinkula, and Sioux City Bishop R. Walter Nickless, called on the President to change Honken's sentence to life without parole, as well as three others, from death to life without the possibility of parole, with the letter saying that punish offenders and defend the common good in this manner 'would still be accomplished by commuting his sentence.'
"This was a last attempt to see if there might be some consideration in clemency out of the whole Catholic orientation that the death penalty itself is something that no longer needs to be practiced in a civil society where we could ensure the safety and well-being of our people."
Bishop Joensen believes the death penalty contributes to a growing disrespect for the sacredness of human life, and it would not deter or end violence, but rather perpetuate a cycle of it, with Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have all called for an end to the death penalty.
"Foregoing capital punishment recognizes that all human beings have an unlimited capacity by the grace of God. But even in that serving of justice, does this define us as a society where we exact a lethal means inflicted on one of our citizens? I think both from a public common intuition, and also from a religious sensibility, there are things here that make this objectable."
Honken's execution is part of the Justice Department's plan to resume federal executions for the first time in more than 15 years.