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Representative for Pope Francis calls for an end to Glossip’s execution

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MCALESTER, Okla. - Richard Glossip is set to die on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m.

Glossip is convicted of murder for the 1997 death of motel owner Barry Van Treese, though Glossip wasn’t the actual killer.

The man who bludgeoned Van Treese to death, Justin Sneed, testified that Glossip hired him for the murder.

Glossip has been on death row since 1998.

His execution has been stayed three times and he still maintains his innocence.

In recent months, Glossip's case has gained international attention from celebrities and critics of the death penalty.

Many well-known names have called on Gov. Mary Fallin to stop Glossip's execution.

One of those well-known names is Pope Francis.

Click here to read the letter from a representative of Pope Francis to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Earlier this month, a representative for Pope Francis sent a letter to Gov. Fallin asking her to commute Glossip's sentence.

"As the personal representative of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United States of America, I respectfully request, on his behalf, that you commute the death sentence of Mr. Richard Glossip.

Pope John Paul II said that capital punishment ought only to be used "in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society," cases which he recognized today "are very rare, if not practically non-existent" (The Gospel of Life, No. 56).

Like Pope Francis and all Christians, I respect the call for justice by victims' families, and I appreciate your concern that they experience "a sense of closure and peace." But as Archbishop Paul Coakley stated:

"In turning away from the use of the death penalty, we do not withdraw any measure of our support and concern for the victims of heinous crimes, nor the families of murder victims. They deserve our support and await justice. But, taking the life of a guilty person does not restore the loss of a loved one, nor does it honor their memory. The death penalty only further erodes our respect for the sanctity of life. It coarsens our culture and diminishes our humanity" (Statement: "The death penalty is morally obsolete," April 2015).

Together with Pope Francis, I believe that a commutation of Mr. Glossip's sentence would give clearer witness to the value and dignity of every person's life, and would contribute to a society more cognizant of the mercy that God has bestowed upon us all.

Please be assured of my prayers for you as you carry out your honorable office. May God guide your prayerful consideration of this request by Pope Francis for what I believe would be an admirable and just act of clemency.

With deep respect and appreciation for your dedicated service to the people of Oklahoma, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano."

The son of the victim, Daniel Van Treese, called the papal letter "interesting," but said he believes the death penalty actually saves lives.

"I believe that if the death penalty was a more frequently used method, it would in turn lessen heinous crimes simply because no on wants to die before their time," Van Treese wrote in a message to NBC News. "If people feared the reproductions [sic] of their actions, they would presumably take different actions."

However, the request to commute Glossip's execution is out of Gov. Mary Fallin's hands, under state law.

Fallin released the following statement earlier this week regarding the case:

“The state of Oklahoma has gone to extraordinary lengths to guarantee that Richard Glossip is treated fairly and that the claims made by him and his attorneys are taken seriously. He has now had multiple trials, seventeen years of appeals, and three stays of his execution. Over and over again, courts have rejected his arguments and the information he has presented to support them. We saw that again today, with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirming the notion that Glossip received a fair trial.

As I have said throughout the process, the role of my office is to follow the law and ensure justice is done. If a state or federal court grants Glossip a new trial or decides to delay his execution, I will respect that decision. If that does not happen, his execution will go forward on September 30, which is the date set by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

As always, my heart goes out to the family of Barry Van Treese, whose suffering has been made worse by uncertainty and delay.”

While many people at the prison were waiting for the Supreme Court's decision on the case, dozens of others took to protesting the death penalty outside the governor's mansion.