FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michael B. Sheedy
Catholic Bishops Urge Governor Scott to Spare the Life of Eric Branch
Floridians pray for an end to the use of the death penalty
TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 19, 2018) – Eric Branch is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. for the 1993 murder of Susan Morris.
In a February 15 letter on behalf of the bishops of Florida, Michael Sheedy, executive director, appealed to Governor Scott to commute Branch's death sentence to a life sentence without parole. "It is our concern that the death penalty contributes to a growing disrespect for the sacredness of all human life," said Sheedy. "It feeds on an underlying sense of vengeance in our culture and adds to a callousness or coarseness towards one another."
In the wake of the senseless act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that tragically took the lives of 17 people, Sheedy wrote, "State-sanctioned killing does not deter or end violence, but instead it perpetuates a cycle of violence."
While violent acts call for justice, traditional Catholic teaching only permits recourse to the death penalty when necessary to defend human lives against the unjust aggressor. A sentence of life without the possibility of parole is a severe punishment, keeps society safe from the offender, and allows for the possibility of redemption.
Prior to Branch’s scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across the state to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for an end to the use of the death penalty, and for Governor Scott as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution.
In the Diocese of Palm Beach, Catholic Charities Respect Life Office in partnership with the Diocese of Palm Beach and Pax Christi Palm Beach will have a Prayer Vigil at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola. This vigil will begin with a short prayer service at 5:30 p.m. in the Cathedral Chapel. We will then process to Military Trail where we will pray in silence until 6:15 p.m. View this Prayer Vigil on our Events Calendar
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy and serves as liaison to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.
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