What If … There Were No Revenge?
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
December 19, 2007
Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

What If … There Were No Revenge?
By: Dale Recinella

Udine is a northeastern Italian city with a metropolitan area of about 200,000 people.


The University of Udine is the sponsor of this multi-city conference on the death penalty. The rectory of San Cristoforo, which is my residence during the Udine portion of the presentations, is at the heart of the university. Tonight the closing session of the conferences will be held in Piazza Libertà, the Liberty Square, at the city center.

Nearby are the ruins of the Basilica of Aquilea, originally a military settlement founded by the Romans in 181 B.C. By the time of Cesar Augustus, Aquilea was a thriving population center. Tradition holds that St. Mark himself took St. Hermagora, the first Bishop of Aquilea, to Rome to be consecrated bishop by St. Peter. All that remains are the ruins of the 1,000-year-old cathedral housing the original baptistery and over 8,000 square feet of fourth century Christian mosaics.

The faith of this region has endured the tumult of natural disasters and conquest for two thousand years. Venetian influence pervades the architecture around the square, a stark reminder of the centuries of war between the nobles of Venice and other powers over the jewel of this city. The mountainside monument to dead soldiers holds the bodies of over 100,000 Italian men killed in World War I.

As I take my place on the dais next to the vice-president of the university, we are surrounded by the city’s historical memory of death as a solution to political, economic and social problems. The audience is large and well informed. At the conclusion of my presentation, an intense man near the rear of the auditorium stands to pose a question.

“What you have been saying is all well and good from a legal and philosophical standpoint. That’s fine. But what about men who do horrible things to children? What if it was your child who was killed, raped, sodomized? How can you possibly say that such a person isn’t deserving of death? What if it was your child? Wouldn’t you want the man killed?”

The tremor in the man’s voice betrays the fact that he has children, probably daughters. I know his struggle. I also have children. My answer begins slowly.

“We must not underestimate the gravity of such crimes. The horror that has been unleashed in the lives of innocent people, the trauma to the family, especially to the parents, is unimaginable. Their grief is like a bottomless pit. And the outrage of the community is white-hot. As it should be. Such crimes are despicable.”

“Perhaps this is why the two most prominent recent clamorings to restore the death penalty in Europe have come in the wake of horrible crimes against children. One was in France. The other in the United Kingdom. We can understand the emotion and the feelings in response to such evil. Yet, we cannot gauge our response by mere emotion.”

“A problem with revenge is that it allows the criminal to control our actions. Revenge allows those who commit the most horrible and despicable crimes to dictate our response to those crimes. Our response must not be based upon the worst things a person can do. Our response must be rooted in who we are and what we believe.”

“Equally important, there are hundreds of family survivors of murder victims who are willing to stand up before audiences such as this and give their personal testimony that revenge killing does not bring healing. Healing only comes with forgiveness. They have formed a national organization called Murder Victims’ Families For Reconciliation. I wish they could be here tonight. If you could hear their story from their own lips, you would know that the death penalty gives nothing but revenge to the survivors of the victims of these crimes.”



First published: The Florida Catholic, May 31, 2003 © 2003 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic. Used with permission. No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission. All rights reserved Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.

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This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.

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Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

If you Like this Weekly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
Sr. Patricia Proctor
Paperback: 433 pages

Excellent book on the topic!,
June 13, 2005 Nathan Eanes
(Review from Amazon.com)

The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty is a must-read. It deals with Biblical standards of Capital Punishment and then compares them to the system used in America today. It is the best-researched, most faithful to scripture, and most evenhanded analysis I have ever read concerning the Death Penalty. Whatever your persuasion on the issue, this book will teach you a great deal. Recinella is a trained lawyer and committed Christian who now volunteers part-time on Florida's death row. He thus understands law, the Bible, and the system of execution in America. I challenge anyone who supports the Death Penalty to read this book.



This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
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