Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Florida Bishops: Death Penalty Not Justified When Society Can Be Kept Safe from the Aggressor

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Contact: Michele Taylor
(850) 205-6820

Governor Bush, Please Stay Two Executions Scheduled for October

Tallahassee – We, the Bishops of Florida, are saddened at the prospect of two executions scheduled for October--Arthur Dennis Rutherford on October 18; and Danny Rolling on October 25. We implore the Governor to listen to the growing chorus of voices calling for a moratorium on executions in Florida and a careful examination of the State’s death penalty system.

The brutal crimes for which these inmates are to be executed were horrifying and appalling. Our hearts ache for the victims and their families, and we have enormous sympathy for them. These were unjustifiable attacks on human life, and we unequivocally condemn and renounce these crimes in the strongest terms possible. We cannot fully appreciate the struggle and recurring pain for the families, and more must be done by our churches and communities to give them comfort and care in their grief. At the same time, we must resist the natural inclination to think that only by taking a murderer’s life can justice be served.

In this day of heightened moral awareness, with increasing concerns about execution of the innocent and growing doubts about the fairness and effectiveness of the death penalty, we plead with the State and our Governor to realize that the antidote to violence is not more violence and that we cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who have killed others. It is said that ”justice delayed is justice denied,” but Florida law providing for life imprisonment without parole allows for justice without the legitimized killing by the State which coarsens us all.

Society must be protected from criminals, but we need not go to the extent of executing them. The cycle of violence must end. "As I live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather that he may be converted and live." (Cf. Ezekiel 33:11)

We are a government of, for and by the people. Let those speak loudly who agree that these executions are not taking place in our names. We appeal to Governor Bush, please stay these executions.

Archbishop John C. FavaloraArchdiocese of Miami
Bishop John J. NevinsDiocese of Venice
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJDiocese of Pensacola/Tallahassee
Bishop Robert N. LynchDiocese of St. Petersburg
Bishop Victor GaleoneDiocese of St. Augustine
Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, JCLDiocese of Palm Beach
Bishop Thomas G. WenskiDiocese of Orlando
Coadjutor Bishop Frank J. DewaneDiocese of Venice
Auxiliary Bishop Felipe J. EstévezArchdiocese of Miami
Auxiliary Bishop John G. NoonanArchdiocese of Miami

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The Florida Catholic Conference is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy, serves as liaison to government and the legislature, and coordinates communications and activities between the Church and secular agencies. The Bishops of the seven (Arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its Board of Directors.

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