Gang Warfare
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
February 27, 2008
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
Upcoming Events: Dale S. Recinella

Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American 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 presentation is a condensed version of the program approved by the Bishops of Florida and offered during 2007 in every diocese in Florida to educate Catholics and interested others about Church teaching on the death penalty.

Dale’s book, The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty, will be available for purchase and signing.

Monday March 31st - FLORIDA
7 – 8:30 pm in the Parish Hall
Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
8523 Normandy Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221
For information, contact Ms.Peg Baker ph. (904) 477-7252 or email:

Gang Warfare
By: Dale Recinella

The wet gray weather is seeping from outside into the cement corridors of death row.

So, too, the news from around the world seeps in through the small black and white television screens in each of the cells. The electronic images de jour are masses of people throughout the globe demonstrating against the world going to war in Iraq.

“Man alive,” an inmate is shaking his head as I approach cell front. “What are all those people doing in the streets? Why are they so upset? What’s your take on this, Brother Dale?”

“Are you asking for my personal opinion or for the teaching of our church?”

“Both,” his gray sweatshirt clad arms are beating to keep warm. “You taught international law in Europe didn’t you? What is this all about?”

“My personal opinion is that this is all about Westphalia.”

“Now that’s an insight no one else has had,” a fellow two cells down decides to join us. “What the heck does west Philadelphia have to do with Iraq?”

“No, not west Philadelphia,” I speak a little louder in order to be heard clearly. “Westphalia. It was a city in Prussia in the seventeenth century.”

“I think Philadelphia makes more sense,” a third man chimes in with lighthearted irony. “None of those people demonstrating ever heard of some hick town from four hundred years ago.”

“Maybe not,” I laugh while stepping back to take in four cells at once. “But they sure were aware of the world based on the treaty that was named for it. Back then, in the heat of the Reformation, countries were attacking each other without provocation. Of course, it was justified based on religion. Europe was running red with blood. The Westphalian Settlement of 1648 ended the infamous Thirty Years’ War in Europe. The treaty set the grounds for sound international order by recognizing that all countries are sovereign and all countries are equal. From that time until September 20 of 2002, any country that didn’t recognize this principle of international relations was called a belligerent—a word from the same root as bellicose, meaning warlike.”

“What happened in September of 2002?”

“We in America espoused a new international principle based on national security. We now reserve the right to take out any country that we think might be a threat to us in the future, whether or not they have actually attacked us. This is called preemptive war. The rest of the world knows that if all the countries in the world follow such an approach, we will have gang warfare worldwide with massive weapons and massive destruction. The rest of the world is demanding a return to the principles of Westphalia.”

“But America is different from other countries,” a fifth man from down the corridor joins us in an explosion of patriotic fervor. “We are the lone superpower. We are the world’s policeman.”

“That point of view, exceptionalism, says the rules are different for America than for anyone else because we are exceptional. The problem is that every country thinks it is exceptional, and the same rules must apply to everyone or there are no rules. Last week North Korea claimed that it must make a preemptive strike against the U.S. in order to protect itself from attack by us in the future. One nuclear bomb delivered from North Korea to Los Angeles on a three-stage ICBM would decimate our nation and our economy. The insanity from reneging on Westphalia is already starting.”

“So, what does your church say, Brother Dale?”

“Our Catholic Church teaches that the strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. In other words, the mere fact that we are afraid some country might attack us someday in the future does not give us the moral right to attack them today.”

First published: The Florida Catholic, February 20, 2003
© 2003 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
News & Updates
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

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
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach