Just minutes before the execution on May 30 of an Orange County man who was on death row, Bishop John Noonan and a small group of Catholics prayed at St. James Cathedral Chapel.
They prayed for the life of the man who committed great evil – Elmer Carroll who was convicted of the murder of a 10 year old girl Christine McGowen and they prayed for the victim who was taken from her loved ones.
“Tonight we come to pray for the victims of violence and the perpetrators of horrific crime, the killing of another human person. We pray for the families. We pray for all tragic lives that were taken,” said Bishop Noonan at the start of the prayer service.
The Catholic Bishops of Florida continue to reject state sanctioned killing and have asked the State of Florida to join the growing number of states who have rejected execution and enacted the option of life in prison without possibility for parole.
During the prayer service, the story of Corrie ten Boom, was described. The woman spent time in a concentration camp and her sister was killed by the Nazis. She struggled to forgive those responsible but realized that she could rely on Jesus Christ to offer that forgiveness.
The Scripture reading from Roman 12:14-21 offered words of compassion and forgiveness as well. “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good,” from the Scripture passage reminded the faithful that the love of Christ can be transformational to our world.
The prayers also focused on bringing an end to the death penalty.
“Is death penalty the answer? There has to be another way. We want every person to find the grace of God in their life and seek God’s forgiveness. The death penalty is not the answer. Life in prison may be the answer,” said Bishop Noonan.
“The Church believes that life is sacred, even those who do heinous crimes, their life is still sacred,” he added.