But I could not live with my conscience if I did not speak what I believe to be the truth about a new wave of executions that appear to be on the way in Mississippi.
The attorney general has requested that the first of these be set for later this month.
I have no new arguments to present since my two previous columns on the death penalty over the past four years.
I have read all the protests by bloggers, email writers, and letters to the editor, and with the exception of a few nasty ones, I have tried to consider their points of view.
I care deeply for the victims of crime and I pray regularly for their families. In a few instances during my half-century as a pastor, I have had the responsibility of ongoing pastoral ministry to such families.
There is no way any of us can know the full extent of their pain, but we must do our best to support them in prayer and in compassionate ministry.
Some of the messages I have received are from families of victims. Let me quote briefly from one of them:
“Nothing will bring my loved one back, and I am certain that his murderer’s execution would not bring me any peace or closure.”
I have a copy of the order of service for the Prayer Vigil for Life that Sacred Heart Catholic Church sponsors each time an execution is scheduled. It contains quotations from Bobby Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing; Marietta Jaeger, whose 7-year-old daughter Susie was murdered; and Coretta Scott King, whose husband and mother-in-law were victims of assassination/murder.
All of them vigorously oppose capital punishment. (Here is one Baptist minister who enthusiastically joins my Catholic brothers and sisters in their prayer vigils.)
Let me be clear. Murder is a terrible crime. My position on the subject is not to excuse murderers. Jesus never excuses sin – mine or anybody else’s. But he did and he does forgive sin – even the sin of those who nailed him to a cross.
Believing what I believe, I must speak out once more against legalized killing called capital punishment. It’s done in our name!
Dick Allison is a retired pastor and a hospital staff chaplain. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org