CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri — Missouri’s four Catholic bishops are asking Gov. Mike Parson to spare the life of a convicted killer whose execution is approaching.

Russell Bucklew faces execution Oct. 1 for killing Michael Sanders in Cape Girardeau County in 1996. The Southeast Missourian reports that the bishops are urging Parson to change the sentence to life in prison.

Pope Francis has called for the “global abolition of the death penalty,” the bishops wrote.

“As Catholic bishops, we have consistently opposed the use of the death penalty. Evidence shows that the death penalty is often unfair and biased in its application,” they continued.

“By ending the use of the death penalty, we can hopefully begin to break the cycle of violence,” the bishops added.

An email message left Thursday with Parson’s spokeswoman wasn’t immediately returned.

Bucklew is 51 and suffers from a rare condition called cavernous hemangioma, which causes blood-filled tumors in his head, neck and throat. His lawyers say he could suffer during the execution process.

The bishops said Bucklew’s “particular medical situation warrants special consideration.”

Twice before, in 2014 and 2018, last-minute reprieves from the U.S. Supreme Court spared Bucklew. But the Supreme Court ruled in April that Missouri could move ahead with the execution.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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