||, 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
|Florida Catholic Bishops' Campaign against the Death Penalty|
Dale S. Recinella and Dr. Susan M. Recinella are the featured speakers in this program on the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in America. The Bishops of Florida have approved this series of presentations to educate Catholics and interested others about Church teaching on the death penalty. Attendance by catechists, educators, Respect Life coordinators, and Peace and Justice Committee members is particularly encouraged. The program will be offered in every diocese in Florida during 2007.
Diocese of Palm Beach
June 9, 2007
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
St. Joan of Arc Parish - Mercy Hall
370 South West Third Street
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Don Kazimir (561) 775-9565 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila Hopkins (Florida Catholic Conference): (850) 205-6826 or email@example.com
I've Got a Secret
By: Dale Recinella
Occasionally, I do receive mail from readers of The Florida Catholic.
One good fellow has written several times challenging me to explain why I am privy to such a wealth of secret information about the death penalty, especially as it relates to the practices of the Ancient Hebrews. Really, the information is only secret in the same way that baseball players' batting averages and career statistics are secret from those who don't follow baseball. All the information is out there to be found.
For example, on March 22, 1999, Jerome Somers, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Union of American Hebrew Congregations made the following Statement to the Massachusetts Legislature:
"In biblical times, capital punishment was a search for justice when justice seemed impossible to reach. As the rabbis did years ago when they considered the use of the death penalty, let us take the time to ask ourselves some relevant questions. Is justice reached when we are taking the chance of killing an innocent person? Is justice reached when we are discriminating against minorities in our death sentences? 'See that justice is done,' the prophet Zechariah proclaims. If justice is not done by legalizing the death penalty --and it is not --human decency and biblical values that stress the sanctity of life require that we put an end to this grisly march of legalized death."
Where does one need to look to uncover this buried gem? It is quoted in To End the Death Penalty: A Report of the National Jewish/Catholic Consultation, a joint effort co-sponsored by the National Council of Synagogues and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. The report is available online at the website of the National Council of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference, located in our nation's capital.
That same report also quotes the following well-known Rabbinical teaching:
"A Sanhedrin that puts one person to death once in seven years is called destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says: Or even once in seventy years. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiba say: Had we been the Sanhedrin, none would ever have been put to death." Mishnah Makkot, 1:10 (2nd Century, C.E.)
A dutiful researcher could find this quote and many more in tomes in the Judaica Libraries around the U.S., but our church has made it easier by including it in reports on the websites of our Bishops.
One might reasonably surmise that such information may be well known in the environs of the Massachusetts Legislature or in Washington D.C. but surely it is unknown here in Florida.
Actually, Florida's history doesn't bear that out. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the existing death penalty statutes in America. Florida, the first state to pass a new death sentence statute (within six months), had two versions of a death penalty statute put to the vote in the State Legislature.
According to a 1992 article in the Nova Law Review, only one person out of the entire Florida Legislature voted against both proposed death penalty statutes. That sole nay vote, which was in the Florida Senate [39-1], was freshman Senator Jack Gordon. He voted against both proposed death penalty statutes for religious reasons, based upon his Jewish understanding of the very same Jewish Scriptures that the Christians quote to support the death penalty.
In his words:
"From a Jewish theological perspective, [capital punishment] is not something you should be for .... Even though there's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth in the Bible, the history of Jewish jurisprudence, Talmudically, is that if the court sentences ... someone to death more frequently than every sixty or seventy years, then they're supposed to get a new court."
First published: The Florida Catholic, November 1, 2001
© 2001 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
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