World Report

US execution of mentally ill man criticised by bishops

William Morva

US Bishops have criticised the execution of a man who was said to be mentally ill.

William Morva was executed in Virginia, after being convicted of killing a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy after escaping from custody several years ago.

He was killed by lethal injection last week, causing the Virginia Catholic Conference to issue a statement condemning the death penalty.

Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, said the release was timed for Morva’s execution.

“In light of the execution, we wanted to reaffirm the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and continue to deepen that awareness of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty,” he said.


Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, representing the conference, said people of God “are led to a profound respect for every human, from its very beginning until its natural end”.

“Knowing that the State can protect itself in ways other than through the death penalty, we have repeatedly asked that the practice be abandoned. Our broken world cries out for justice, not the additional violence of vengeance the death penalty will exact,” the statement said.

His execution was the first in the state under a new protocol that makes more of the lethal injection procedure secret.