Ahead of inmate’s execution, Florida Catholic bishops seek clemency
Tallahassee, Fla., Aug 24, 2011 / 06:19 am (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Florida have asked Gov. Rick Scott to stay the execution of Manuel Valle, who was convicted in the 1978 shooting murder of a police officer. “True peace can only be achieved by forgiveness,” they said. “Governor, we ask you to stop state sanctioned killing.”
“Killing someone because they killed diminishes respect for life and promotes a culture of violence and vengeance,” the bishops said in an Aug. 3 letter. “We affirm the right and duty of the State to assure public safety and punish the guilty by incarceration, which allows the inmate an opportunity for reflection on their offenses and sorrow for the pain they have caused others.”
Valle, now 61, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Sept. 1 for fatally shooting Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena.
His execution had been scheduled for Aug. 2 but was postponed for a court hearing on the efficacy of a drug used in the execution procedure, the Miami Herald reports.
“The killing of Officer Louis Pena caused great suffering and pain for his family and friends, and we pray they were consoled as they mourned the loss of their loved one,” the bishops said. They also prayed for the healing of police officer Gary Spell, who was also shot at the scene of the crime.
The Florida bishops also emphasized the need for forgiveness.
“An execution re-opens the emotional wounds of victim’s families and does not bring back or honor their loved one,” they said.
“Willful murder is a heinous crime; it cries to God for justice,” the bishops added. They referred to the biblical murderer Cain and noted that God punished him, but also marked him to protect him from those wishing to avenge Abel’s murder.
“Like Cain, the condemned prisoner on death row – for all the evil of his crimes – remains a person. Human dignity – that of the convicted as well as our own – is best served by not resorting to this extreme and unnecessary punishment. Modern society has the means to protect itself without the death penalty,” they said.
Valle should spend the rest of his sentence in prison, the bishops stated.