SALT LAKE CITY — The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City is asking church members to rally against the death penalty in Utah.

The Deseret News reports that in an email Monday, the diocese wrote that Utah Catholics should urge state lawmakers to abolish the practice during the Legislature’s 2017 session, making the maximum sentence life without the possibility of parole.

The email says that lawmakers are inundated with emails come January so church members should start now when their email and phone call will not be lost in the shuffle.

The Salt Lake diocese has long taken a position against the death penalty, but it has not previously called on its followers to lobby lawmakers. It said it was doing so now as a way to implement Pope Francis’s call for Catholics to support an end to capital punishment to build a “culture of life.”

“Utah Catholics are in a position to do much to end the death penalty in our state, starting now,” says the email from Jean Hill, the government liaison for the diocese.

Lawmakers in Utah did not vote to repeal the death penalty in 2016, although a push to do so got further than anticipated, the note says, and they make take up the issue again in 2017.

There are nine men on Utah’s death row. Most were convicted and sentenced to die before 1999, although one of those men was retried and convicted again in 2015.

Utah’s primary method of execution for condemned killers is lethal injection, however, a firing squad can also be used in some circumstances. The state last carried out a capital sentence in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad, drawing national headlines.