Florida Catholic Bishops Urge Governor: End Use of the Death Penalty




Prior to the July 10 scheduled execution of Marshall Gore, the Catholic Bishops of Florida urge Governor Scott to commute his sentence and end the use of the death penalty in Florida. The statement from the Florida Catholic Conference follows:


“We urge Governor Scott to commute the death sentence of Marshall Gore to life in prison without possibility of parole.


In making this plea, we are saddened and troubled by the brutal murders of his victims, Susan Roark and Robyn Novick, and we express our sincere sympathy to their families. However, neither retribution nor deterrence can justify the use of the death penalty.


Society must be protected; criminals must be punished, but we must stop killing to show that killing is wrong. We must seek justice without vengeance. Some believe the death penalty will bring closure, but most often this is not the case. Only forgiveness frees one to live again in peace, removing the desire for revenge. “As I live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man's conversion, that he may live.” (cf. Ezekiel 33:11).


We renew our appeal to the Governor and all policymakers that when society can otherwise be kept safe, there is no justifiable reason to use the death penalty. Across the world, most other countries have abandoned the death penalty, in practice or in principle. In our country, the past six years have seen six states repeal their death penalty laws. Given our dubious record of wrongful convictions with twenty-four exonerations, Florida should join these enlightened states.


Governor, please commute this death sentence. We urge you to do all in your power to end the use of the death penalty in our state.”


Opportunities to pray for those on death row, for victims of violent crimes and their families, and for the abolition of the death penalty will be offered in several areas of the state.


In the Diocese of St. Augustine:

Prayer vigils will be held on Wednesday, July 10 at the following locations:

  • In front of the St. Augustine Beach City Hall, corner of A1A and 16th Street, 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Contact: Nancy O'Byrne, (904) 461-9216, obyrnen@bellsouth.net.
  • In front of the new Duval County Unified Courthouse, 501 W. Adams Street, Jacksonville, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Contact: Martha Malone, 904-608-7225, magumlmm@bellsouth.net
  • In front of the Flagler County Courthouse, 1769 E. Moody Blvd, Bunnell from  5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Contact: Jackie Morelewicz, (386) 986-3146, jackiem@cfl.rr.com.
  • Across the highway from the Florida State Prison Execution Building, Starke from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Contact: John Linnehan, (904) 504-1004, metanoia.mx@gmail.com.

Additional Contact: Office of Communications, Diocese of St. Augustine, (904) 262-3200.


In the Diocese of St. Petersburg:

Spirit FM 90.5 WBVM Tampa will be praying on air Wednesday, July 10 beginning at 5:50 pm. Spirit FM is also available on the internet (www.spiritfm905.com). Contact: Sabrina Burton Schultz, (727) 344-1611, sab@dosp.org.


In the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee:

A holy hour will be held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1008 Fortune Avenue, Panama City on Tuesday, July 9 at 7:00 p.m. (CST). Contact: (850) 763-1821, stj.office@knology.net.


In the Diocese of Palm Beach:

A prayer service organized by Pax Christi will be held on Wednesday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, 9999 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens, prior to a silent vigil in front of the Cathedral from 5:45 - 6:15 p.m. Contact: Dianne Laubert, (561) 313-2280, dlaubert@diocesepb.org.


In the Diocese of Venice:

A prayer vigil will be held on Wednesday, July 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 425 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey (Sarasota County). Contact: Janine Marrone, (941) 497-4917.


In addition, Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty will sponsor a community prayer vigil scheduled for Wednesday, July 10 at 6:00 p.m. in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and an interfaith Service of Remembrance in the Capitol Building Plaza Level Rotunda the day after the execution, Thursday, July 11 at noon. Contact: Sheila Meehan, (850) 524-0080.


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.