||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Were You There When They Crucified My Lord
By: Dale Recinella
Our daughter jumps from the table to answer the kitchen extension.
After offering the mandatory “Recinella Residence,” she turns to me: “It’s for you Dad,” then winces in a whisper over the hand-cupped receiver, “She doesn’t sound too happy.”
The caller, a longtime acquaintance from outside Florida, is not happy.
“I read your article about the officers. Sounds like you have decided to take the side of the State on this whole thing.”
“What whole thing are you talking about?” I buy a little time to move from the dinner table to the rocking chair in the living room.
“The whole capital punishment thing.”
“No. I’m sorry my writing gave you that impression. But you should know that I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty. After all, I am Catholic. I accept the teachings of our Pope. How could you think I’m pro-death penalty?”
“Well, you’re taking up for the officers aren’t you?”
“I’m not sure what you mean by ‘taking up.’ I’ve encountered many very humane and Christian officers. I simply share what I’ve experienced.”
“You’re becoming part of the machinery of death. You’ve become part of the problem. And worst of all, you give the death system credibility just by being there.”
I know that last issue. I have had to confront it myself. “Let’s separate the issue of the officers from the issue of my involvement in the death factory. As for the officers, you and I just have to accept that we don’t agree. I believe that all inmates, those on death row or otherwise, are better off in the hands of compassionate and faith filled officers and staff. The fact that you and I abhor the retribution and vengeance that is currently the philosophy of the Florida penal system doesn’t change that reality.”
“You’re right. We disagree.”
“But your point about giving tacit approval to the death system by participating as a lay minister, that’s an issue I’ve had to deal with.”
“Then how can you still be doing it! You should be on the outside carrying a sign. Not inside wearing a State-issued volunteer badge.”
“Friend, those vigils outside are very important. The humility appropriate to the human condition requires me to admit that you may be right. But I have wrestled with this and concluded that what I’m doing does not tacitly affirm capital punishment in general or capital punishment in Florida.”
“How can you get to such a conclusion?”
“Based on Scripture.”
“You mean the Old Testament stuff.”
“No. I mean the passion and death of Jesus Christ.”
“Don’t give me that bunk about Jesus approving capital punishment because he allowed it to happen to him.”
“I’m not. You already forgot again. I’m Catholic. Of course I’m against the death penalty.”
“So what’s your support for being inside?”
“I want you to picture the people that loved Jesus at the time of his passion: the Cyrenian who helped him carry the Cross; the women who wept for him; Mary Magdalene who stood as close as the law allowed while he was executed. And, most important of all, his mother Mary. Can you believe for one instant that any of them supported or approved of what was happening?”
“No, of course not.”
“They were powerless to stop his execution. But they were there. Not for the State, mind you. They were there for the Man that they loved. There to be counted as his friend, his family.”
“That was different. You believe He was God.”
“Jesus still is God. And He said that it’s not different. Whatever we do for the men on death row, we do it for Him.”
First published: The Florida Catholic, December 14, 2000
© 2000 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
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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