Please join us on November 30 at the Cathedral of St.Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg at seven o’clock in the evening for an Interfaith Prayer Service for an End to the Death Penalty. As we approach the fourth year of #GivingTuesday, the time of year during which the charitable season is recognized as having started after the crass commercialism of post-Thanksgiving Holiday events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Diocese of St. Petersburg has decided to focus on prayer as a focal point for the event.
One such often forgotten need for prayer is for those on our state’s death row. As Catholics, we believe in the sanctity of life and therefore its protection from conception to natural death. Capital punishment, while sanctioned in only the most extreme circumstances, is predominantly unnecessary and importantly often frequently biased and unfair. Many who lost their lives were later found to be innocent. Many others have been saved from the death penalty due to advances in science (e.g., DNA testing) that proved their innocence.
It is for this reason that we focus on prayers for those on death row and for their families who suffer with them, not just for their own loss, but for the knowledge of what their loved one did to another human. However, as importantly, we also pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones to this senseless violence. We also know that the execution of their loved one’s murderer rarely brings them the relief from their grief and suffering that they’d hoped for and in some cases magnifies their loss due to the compounding violence of another death.
As Pope Francis said during his historic address to the U.S Congress on September 24th:
“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”
Again, please join us for this event and help us through the power of prayer bring an end to the death penalty in our beloved state of Florida.