BOSTON (AP) — Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and fellow Massachusetts Roman Catholic bishops said Monday it would be against the church's teaching to apply the death penalty to Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
"The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm," the bishops said in a statement, adding "society can do better than the death penalty."
"The Boston Marathon Bombing trial is a painful reminder of the harm that impacts many people even beyond those who are killed or maimed by violent criminal acts," the bishops said. They said they "feel it is fitting" to reiterate the church's position as Tsarnaev's trial brings attention to capital punishment.
The church opposes the death penalty in almost all cases, a position the bishops said was restated by Pope Francis last month. "We believe these words remain true today in the face of this most terrible crime," the statement said.
A jury begins deliberating Tsarnaev's guilt or innocence on Tuesday. His punishment will be decided in a second trial phase if he's convicted.
Tsarnaev's lawyer, in a strategy to save him from the death penalty, says he participated in the 2013 bombings, but was led by his older brother. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police days after the twin attacks that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Joining O'Malley were Bishops Edgar da Cunha of Fall River, Mitchell Rozanski of Springfield and Robert McManus of Worcester.