Thursday, September 25, 2008

As Henyard is executed, Catholics gather in prayer

Capital punishment opponents join in prayer vigils around the state to pray for a condemned killer, his victims and for the end of executions.


Published: 09.24.08

PALM BEACH GARDENS Raindrops fell from the heavens Tuesday evening Sept. 23 on the grounds of this city’s Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, where about 20 people gathered to pray about an execution set to take place in a few minutes, about 285 miles away.

“I know a lot of people are not interested in the death penalty. But if you care about life from conception to natural death, you should care about what happens to everyone,” said prayer leader Don Kazimir, coordinator of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Palm Beach. “The commandment says ‘you shall not kill.’ This is killing — state–sponsored killing — and it is wrong. It perpetuates the cycle of violence. It is something that is wrong in this country, and we need to correct it.”

The lethal injection of Richard Henyard was carried out in the death chamber in the north Florida town of Starke at around 8 p.m. The execution took place about two hours later than planned. The Palm Beach vigil and at least five other events in which Catholics joined other death penalty opponents in prayer and peaceful protests got under way around the state before the 6 p.m. scheduled time.

Members of local chapters of Pax Christi, a Catholic peace movement, participated in events at a busy intersection in Pinellas County, the Duval County Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville, outside St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and outside the Florida State Prison near Starke.

Henyard, 34, was executed over the objection of Florida’s Catholic bishops, who on Sept. 17 asked Gov. Crist in a letter to spare the killer’s life and to end the use of the death penalty in the state. Repeating a plea they issued before the July 1 execution of Mark Dean Schwab, the first person to be executed in Florida under Gov. Crist, the bishops said that using the death penalty diminishes a civil society, perpetuates a culture of death, raises questions about fairness and is unnecessary given the option of life in prison without parole.

Henyard was sentenced to death for the January 1993 murders of 7–year–old Jamilya Lewis and 3–year–old Jasmine Lewis, and the rape and attempted murder of their mother, Dorothy Lewis, all of Eustis. Schwab, 39, was executed for the April 18, 1991, rape and murder of 11–year–old Junny Rios–Martinez of Cocoa.

Pax Christi member Phyllis Jepson, a parishioner of St. Ann in West Palm Beach who attended the vigil in Palm Beach Gardens, said the nature of the crimes doesn’t make use of the death penalty acceptable.

“For the state to kill an individual is wrong and we feel that even though he has been found guilty of a horrendous crime killing two young children, we still believe his life is sacred,” Jepson said. “Judgment will come when he stands before God. It is not our place to judge. We witness to life.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Yeah.. well it is not your place to judge Florida for cleaning up our state of these trashbags either. So stop judging Florida and find something else to hit on. Get a life in other words. When it comes to a crime of any kind against a kid I feel there is no second chance. The bible says turn the other cheek but it does not say be a damned fool people. WAKEUP CATHOLICS!!!