The executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to stop executions in the state beginning with Oscar Ray Bolin, Jr., who was scheduled to be executed on Jan. 7.
"Our society is increasingly aware of the flaws in the application of the death penalty, which is inconsistent, arbitrary and too often applied in error," wrote Michael Sheedy in a Jan. 5 letter to the governor on behalf of Florida's bishops.
"Florida was one of only six states to carry out executions last year, and continues to lead the nation in the number of death row exonerations," he added.
Sheedy pointed out Scott's support for many pro-life measures while he has been governor and urged him to "recognize that the life of each person has dignity and should be respected, even those who have done great harm."
Before the scheduled execution, Florida Catholics planned to gather to pray for Bolin, his victims and their families and for an end to capital punishment.
In December, the Florida Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Bolin, the 53-year-old convicted killer from the Tampa area.
The court ruled Bolin should be put to death for the December 1986 murder of Teri Lynn Matthews. He also was sentenced to death for the 1986 murder of Stephanie Collins and is serving a life sentence for the 1986 murder of Natalie Holley.
The Catholic Mobilzing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty linked to an online alert to send a message to Gov. Scott likewise urging that the scheduled execution of Bolin be halted. The group said in a statement released with the alert: "We sympathize with the profound pain of the victims of brutal crimes. Another death, however, does not provide true healing for those who mourn. By ending the use of the death penalty, we would take an important step to abandon the culture of death and embrace the culture of life.