A Prayer Vigil to abolish the death penalty will be held at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola. This vigil will begin a half hour before the scheduled 6 p.m. execution of death row inmate Chadwick Banks who was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Cassandra Banks and for the murder and sexual assault on his 10-year-old stepdaughter, Melanie Cooper. We join in prayer for them.
Catholic faithful and members of the community are invited to gather in solidarity to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for persons on death row awaiting execution, and for the end of the use of the death penalty. Catholic Charities Respect Life Office in partnership with the Diocese of Palm Beach and Pax Christi will host a prayer service starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel of the Cathedral. The service will be followed by a procession and silent vigil in front of the Cathedral from 5:45 - 6:15 p.m.
The Florida Catholic Conference urges Governor Scott to commute the sentence of Mr. Banks. In a released statement, the bishops of Florida state:
Mr. Banks deserves severe punishment for the brutal acts of violence he inflicted upon his victims, Sandra Banks and Melody Cooper. Life in prison without the possibility of parole would serve this purpose.
The State has the right to carry out the death penalty if necessary to keep society safe from an unjust aggressor. However, justice can be served and society can be protected without resorting to the deliberate taking of a person’s life. We affirm the dignity of all persons, including both victims and offenders. The death penalty denies human dignity, contributes to an ever-growing disrespect for the sacredness of human life and feeds a sense of vengeance rather than justice.
In an October 23, 2014 meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, Pope Francis called on all Christians and people of good will to fight for the end of the use of the death penalty. "It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor," the pope said.
Each (arch)diocese in the state will hold a prayer vigil on November 13, with some conducting prayer vigils at multiple locations. Please see the attached statement from the Florida Bishops for more information on the vigils and to read the bishops’ statements.
The Florida Catholic Conference is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.
Learn more about Catholic Social Teaching and the use of the death penalty click here
Read What Our Florida Bishops Have Said About the Death Penalty click here