"This occurs when individuals, communities, and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered. To do justice requires an honest acknowledgment of our failures and the restoring of right relationships among us. That's why we are speaking out about Tharpe's case."
Archbishop Gregory, Bishop Dewane, and Bishop Fabre offered prayers for Freeman – Tharpe's victim – and her family.
They also noted that the Catechism teaches that the death penalty is as inadmissible violation of human dignity, even for those who have committed violent crimes.
"As bishops, we take very seriously Jesus's call to visit those in prison," they said. "We have visited prisoners, including those on death row. In most parishes with prisons or jails, a priest or deacon visits every week to offer religious services."
"We have been blessed to witness true rehabilitation and meet prisoners who earnestly seek redemption through God's grace."
The bishops emphasized their duty as religious leader to insist that racism be challenged on the grounds that "we are all brothers and sisters, equally made in the image of God."
"The U.S. Supreme Court must intervene in his case to ensure that fairness is protected and justice is defended-before it's too late," they said. "To do nothing would be tragic not only for Tharpe, but for our collective dignity."