Lincoln, Neb., Nov 5, 2016 / 13:47 pm
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln has called on the group “Nebraskans for the Death Penalty” to retract social media advertisements which distort his words to promote a capital punishment initiative in the state.
The advertisements use heavily redacted quotes, taken out of context, from one of Bishop Conley’s interviews regarding Referendum 426, a state ballot measure attempting to maintain the death penalty after legislators voted to abolish it.
On October 26th, Bishop Conley conducted a 12-minute radio interview with Coby Mach, host of KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln. The bishop explained the Catholic Church’s theological and pastoral positions on the death penalty.
While the Church allows for the death penalty in principle, he said, it holds that in contemporary times, “the circumstances where that would be an option are practically non-existent… we can protect people without recourse to the death penalty.”
Bishop Conley noted that the bishops of Nebraska encourage Catholics to retain the death penalty’s repeal because “the death penalty is a way that we resort to a violent act to try to solve problems.”
The state’s bishops have said that while Catholics are not formally required to support the bishops' judgment on this issue, they are required to evaluate the Nebraska’s death penalty in light of the Church’s moral framework: especially the requirement that the death penalty be used only when it is absolutely necessary for public safety.
Bishop Conley also called for prison reform across Nebraska, encouraging state officials to make prison safety a serious priority. “Violence to deal with violence,” the bishop said, “is not the answer.”
Days later, however, the death-penalty advocacy group “Nebraskans for the Death Penalty” used an edited version of the bishop’s remarks, without providing context, in paid social media advertising.