Catholic World News

Florida bishops urge governor to commute death sentences

May 30, 2013

The bishops of Florida have urged Gov. Rick Scott to commute the death sentences of three men scheduled to be executed.

“The crimes of these men involved great evil,” the bishops said in an open letter. “But we do not see more violence as relieving [victims’ families] of their pain or as helpful to our society. Responding to murder with the violence of executions sanctions revenge. What effect does this have on the people of Florida?”

“Governor, will our citizenry be any safer, will Floridians be any better protected, if we execute these men?” the bishops continued. “Will not the safety of persons and the preservation of public order be as secure, if instead, you commute these sentences to lifelong confinement?”

The bishops added:

Willful murder is a heinous crime: it cries to God for justice. Yet God was merciful with Cain for having spilled Abel’s blood, and "put a mark “on him to protect Cain from those wishing to avenge Abel’s murder. (cf. Genesis 4:15)

We affirm the proper role of the State to assure that society is protected, but we sense a growing opposition to the death penalty in our country, even in cases as grievous as these. We see Florida’s existing alternative of life imprisonment without possibility for parole as a better solution in a day when violence is erupting all around us. Killing people to show that killing is wrong is a piercing contradiction, and one that touches our very souls. Executions coarsen us. We daily condemn the glorification of violence, but what example is set when our State legitimizes killing? What results can we expect?


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  • Posted by: unum - May. 31, 2013 7:03 AM ET USA

    Fr. Greely personified the members of our liberal Irish-Catholic family and perhaps the majority of the American bishops in his belief that Democrats were almost always right and Kennedy was the greatest American president of all time. He clearly conflated the social justice teaching of the Church and the Democrat party platform. That said, his Irish humor and imagination made him a very readable author and lovable (most of the time) spokesman for the Irish-Catholic branch of the Church.