Archbishop Henry Mansell in Hartford, Ct., will call on Roman Catholics this weekend to join him in opposing the scheduled execution of serial killer Michael Ross, says the Hartford Courant. “The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life only by taking life,” Mansell wrote in a letter to be read in Catholic churches during Masses Saturday and Sunday. It’s not clear how much Mansell’s words will resonate with parishioners. A 2003 University of Connecticut poll said 58 percent of Connecticut residents favor the death penalty.
There is a disconnect between church teaching and public practice, says James O’Toole, a history professor at Boston College: While New England’s Catholic bishops consistently condemned legislation to re-impose the death penalty, Catholic legislators continued to be among capital punishment’s most regular supporters. Alex Mikulich, a professor of religious studies at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, said that, “we don’t need the death penalty any longer to protect society. Individuals who are a threat to society can be incarcerated for life.”