Florida’s Killing Season and the Semantics of Death
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I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
May-June, 2013
Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Correctional Chaplain Florida's Death Row & Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella,Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed and for seventeen years a Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults.

Florida’s Killing Season and the Semantics of Death
By: Dale S. Recinella
Catholic Correctional Chaplain for Florida’s Death Row

Back in the early 1970s, when I cut my teeth in the prolife movement as a college student in the Cincinnati area, it was already apparent that the culture of death wields semantics as a weapon against the value of human life.

That is not surprising. Historically, every effort to mobilize good people to complacency in the face of human slaughter has begun by dehumanizing the human beings to be slaughtered.

In the context of the abortion issue over forty years ago, the proponents of death knew full well that they could never win if they talked honestly about the actual acts they were proposing. How could decent people be quieted about dismembering babies in the womb? Or burning babies alive in the womb with saline solutions and other chemicals?

So, the first strategy of the pro-death forces was to change the language, both to dehumanize the ones to be killed and to avoid using the word “kill”. Instead of honestly stating the intention to “kill human babies”, they employed the semantic of “terminating fetuses”.

In the Catholic Encyclical The Gospel of Life, the great Pope John Paul II clearly includes the death penalty as part of the machinery of the culture of death. Those of us who are uniformly prolife should not be surprised that pro-death forces are resorting to semantics in their efforts to kill people with the death penalty just like the abortionists did forty years ago.

For example, here in my home state of Florida, Christian politicians who bill themselves as prolife are screaming to kill human beings already held in prison, and to speed up the killing of human beings already held in prison.

Even worse, they do not want to say clearly what they are actually doing. None of them say, “I am pushing to kill as many human beings as possible as fast as possible even though they are already in prison.” No. These Christian politicians who paint themselves as prolife are using the semantics of death just like the pro-abortionists.

So, instead they say: “We need to process the backlog on death row.” In this context, “process” is a euphemism for “kill”. And “backlog” is a euphemism for human beings held in prison cells for many years where they cannot pose a risk to innocent life in society.

Christians who are uniformly prolife must ask: Why? Why are self-styled Christian pro-lifers using the semantics of death just like the pro-abortionists do? Why must we hurry to kill as many human beings as possible as fast as possible even though they are already in prison? What about the risks of killing the innocent? Could this killing really be about the elections in November of 2014? Or about future openings in higher office?

In paragraph 9 of the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II reminds us that “Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.”

He then goes on to quote St. Ambrose, the man who taught the Christian faith to St. Augustine:

“God, who preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide".
Truly prolife Christians must refuse seduction by the semantics of death on all fronts, including the death penalty which in our day and age is both cruel and unnecessary.

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©2013 Dale S. Recinella, Tallahassee, Florida USA.
All rights reserved. No reuse without written permission.

Upcoming Events:

Now I Walk on Death Row – NCJPM
   DALE S. RECINELLA
          Catholic Correctional Chaplain for Florida Death Row
   DR. SUSAN RECINELLA
          Catholic Volunteer for Ministry to Families of the Executed

32nd Annual National Convocation of Jail & Prison Ministry
Building Bridges Not Walls
Hosted by Diocesan Council of Orlando’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul

May 19 – 21, 2013

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7301 West Sand Lake Road
Orlando, FL 32819      407.354.1101

For Information: Call 407.814.3869 or email



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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.

Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!

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 Monthly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
The Poor Clare Sisters
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 The Poor Clare Sisters of Spokane
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