KC hosts prayer vigil calling for an end to the death penalty

After spending half his life on death row, Christopher Vialva (40) was executed Sept. 24, 2020 at the Terra Haute, Ind. federal prison. He was 19 when he and accomplices robbed and killed youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagely in 1999.

A prayer vigil was held the afternoon of Sept. 24 for Vialva and for the end of the death penalty, organized by Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP). Bishop Johnston and a number of local Catholics were among those attending.

“Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty along with supporters to end the death penalty have held statewide execution watches and vigils for all seven men who were executed from federal death row, as well as all victims of the death penalty,” said a Sept. 25 news item on the MADP website.

The news item also said: “Valuing violence and retribution over restorative justice and healing prolongs the pain of all who are involved in the system of the death penalty.”

“In Catholic teaching the state has the recourse to impose the death penalty upon criminals convicted of heinous crimes if this ultimate sanction is the only available means to protect society from a grave threat to human life. However, this right should not be exercised when other ways are available to punish criminals and to protect society that are more respectful of human life,” said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a 2005 statement entitled ‘A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death’.

According to a list on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, the federal government has executed seven inmates on death row over the past three months. Cross-referencing of this list with data from the Death Penalty Information Center shows these executions occurred nearly 15 to 20 years after the crimes were committed.

October 21, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph