We are disappointed that a president who took strong actions on behalf of the unborn is finishing his term with a flurry of federal executions.

Of course we don’t defend the heinous acts of death row inmates. Of course we understand the difference between innocent unborn babes and a guilty convict. Of course we know that the number of abortions far exceeds the number of executions.

But conditions and numbers cannot change the fundamental truth that life is not ours to take. God’s just love and mercy extend far. Who are we to sever it? Life in prison without parole is the right punishment for murder.

St. John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have changed society’s thinking on the death penalty, again affirming that Catholics are a both-and people when it comes to life issues. If we stand up only for either or, we are morally insufficient and our evangelization lacks punch.

Of course, we American Catholics are in a bind. It’s hard to figure why neither of our political parties seems to understand the full dignity of life. Sadly, we probably will see that in action over the next four years as the unborn face increased danger. Let’s be ready to oppose that vigorously.

And right now, let’s stand up against capital punishment, a retrograde practice we share mostly with rogue nations. Studies show that executions don’t even deter crime. Their awful and true purpose, it seems, is to add “tough guy” to the resume of politicians.

“Executions solve nothing,” said the U.S. Catholic bishops in a statement last month. The bishops called for an end to the killing “in recognition of God’s unmerited gift of self-giving love.”

Along with the bishops, we hope and pray that our country comes to its senses and recognizes the folly of killing people to declare that killing people is wrong.