Baltimore’s archbishop pledges support to O’Malley to end Maryland’s death penalty

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, left, acknowledges parishioners after a liturgy in Baltimore in June. (Patrick Semansky — Associated Press)

William E. Lori, the archbishop of Baltimore, pledged in a letter last week to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to enlist the Catholic Church in an effort to “end state executions in Maryland once and for all” during the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

“I urge you to again make repealing the death penalty a priority for your legislative goals this year, and assure you of our continued commitment to fully engaging Maryland’s Catholic community in advocacy efforts to achieve this goal,” Lori wrote. “We hope, too, to encourage our many faith partners throughout the state to join this effort.”

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O’Malley, a practicing Catholic, has long advocated repeal of capital punishment. He has yet to say, however, whether he will sponsor a repeal bill in the 90-day legislative session that starts Jan. 9. On Thursday, he also met with NAACP leaders on the issue.

O’Malley and Catholic leaders have been at odds on some other issues during his tenure, most notably same-sex marriage. Last year, O’Malley pushed through a bill allowing gay nuptials over the objections of church leaders.

Lori was among those who spoke out in favor of the issue’s defeat when it was petitioned to the ballot. The measure passed last month, 52 percent to 48, and will take effect Jan. 1.

O’Malley and church leaders were aligned on another high-profile ballot measure this fall: extending in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants under certain circumstances.

“I welcome the chance to discuss in the near future how we can work together on this and other issues of mutual interest, and hope that the recent momentum on repealing the death penalty will finally result this year in decisive action,” Lori said in the Dec. 7 letter.

 
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