Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Pope Francis following Texas execution case

by Elizabeth A. Elliott

View Author Profile

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts to Letters to the Editor. Learn more

Update, Jan. 20:  

The  U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of 43-year-old Richard Masterson. The  Associated Press reported Masterson was executed by lethal injection at 6:53 p.m. Wednesday. 

Earlier Story:

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, president of the executive council of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, has taken the work of mercy of visiting prisoners to heart by corresponding with Richard Masterson, who is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday in Texas.

Schönborn was at the Vatican to unveil plans for the European Apostolic Congress on Mercy to be held at the Vatican March 31-April 4 and for the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy to be held in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 16-20, 2017, according to Catholic News Service. Schönborn revealed that Pope Francis is also following Masterson’s case.  

"The apostolate of mercy is not just devotion, but charity -- mercy in action," Schönborn told Catholic News Service.

Masterson, 43, was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of a female impersonator in Houston in 2001. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his appeal in June, according to the Associated Press. His appeal was rejected last week by an appeals court.

Masterson is not the only case Francis has followed. Francis, who spoke out against the death penalty in his address to Congress Sept. 24, sent a letter to Georgia officials pleading for the commutation of the death penalty of Kelly Gissendaner and to Oklahoma officials on behalf of Richard Glossip. Georgia ignored all pleas and executed Gissendaner Sept. 29.

Glossip was set to be executed Sept. 30, when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin granted a 37-day stay over a question of the correct drug being available. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals issued an indefinite stay for Glossip and two others set for execution in 2015. According to the Huffington Post, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt won’t request execution dates for at least 150 days after the investigation into Oklahoma using the wrong drug to execute Charles Warner in January 2015.

Schönborn said Masterson’s case has been followed by a group of Christians in Texas and said their attention "is the witness of the closeness of Jesus to this man, who thus has the sweet experience of the merciful heart of Jesus," according to the Associated Press.

[Elizabeth A. Elliott is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is]



Latest News


1x per dayDaily Newsletters
1x per weekWeekly Newsletters
2x WeeklyBiweekly Newsletters