Tag Archives: David Atwood

ON THE LINE: April 2016 edition includes Good Friday actions slideshow and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners.

PAX CHRISTI GROUPS ACROSS THE NATION PARTICIPATE IN GOOD FRIDAY WITNESS: Many Pax Christi USA local groups planned and staged a “Way of the Cross” event on Good Friday, connecting the sufferings of Christ during his passion with the suffering of our brothers and sisters at the hands of violence, greed, poverty, sickness and war. Check out the slideshow featuring photos of many of these events.

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LOCAL POVERTY AND FAITHFUL BUDGET CAMPAIGN TOPICS AT PC MEMPHIS MEETING: (from PC-Memphis newsletter by Paul Crum) Terry Hash and her daughter Christine presented an eye opening look at poverty in the Memphis area and beyond at our March gathering. Armed with surprising facts and a wealth of data, the pair highlighted the struggle that thousands of our neighbors endure to navigate current economic conditions. Christine, Manager of Social Enterprises and Community Engagement for Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, told the group that Memphis has the highest level of childhood poverty in the nation. She presented statistics reflecting the typical expenses for families of various sizes living in the Memphis metropolitan area, and showed the wide disparity in wages between the working poor and their more affluent suburban counterparts… To read more, go to http://www.paxchristimemphis.org/

Sr. Patty Chappell and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN did anti-racism workshops for members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Wichita, KS; Roma, IL; and Columbia, PA this past weekend.

Sr. Patty Chappell and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN did anti-racism workshops for members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Wichita, KS; Roma, IL; and Columbia, PA this past weekend.

PAX CHRISTI USA MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN HISTORIC NONVIOLENCE AND JUST PEACE CONFERENCE IN ROME: This past week, Pax Christi International co-convened with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UISG/USG and many other international Catholic organizations, an international conference on nonviolence and just peace. Several members of Pax Christi USA from various regions were participants in the meeting, including Pax Christi International Co-President and PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Marie Dennis, former PCUSA National Coordinator Anne McCarthy, osb, former PCUSA National Council Chair Judy Coode, former PCUSA staff member Jean Stokan, and PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Rev. John Dear, among others. To see the conference statement, click here. For media coverage of this historic gathering, go to: https://paxchristiusa.org/2016/04/16/news-media-coverage-of-nonviolence-and-just-peace-conference-in-rome/

Pax Christi TX members participated in the "Fight for $15" March and Rally in Houston on April 14.

Pax Christi TX members participated in the Fight for $15 March in Houston on Apr. 14.

PAX CHRISTI USA MEMBERSHIP NEWSLETTER FOR SPRING 2016: If you did not receive a hard copy of the Pax Christi USA membership newsletter, The Peace Current, which includes two pages of updates from the national, regional and local levels, please let us know. It means your membership is not up-to-date or there is an error in our database. The Spring 2016 edition should have arrived within the last month. You can view it online by going to https://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/39803_nl_pax_web.pdf

Pax Christi Charlottesville (VA) member Ellen Mohr attended the St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House with her niece Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. Ellen won a legislative battle with her niece in New York to let adopted children be able to know their birth parents.

Pax Christi Charlottesville (VA) member Ellen Mohr attended the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House with her niece Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. Ellen won a legislative battle with her niece in New York to let adopted children be able to know their birth parents.

Mary McDonough Harren

Mary McDonough Harren

PAX CHRISTI MEMBER MARY MCDONOUGH HARREN HONORED AS DIFFERENCE-MAKER IN KANSAS: (from Tom Cordaro, PC-Illinois) Long time Pax Christi member Mary McDonough Harren will be honored at the “She Made a Difference” award dinner on March 25th being held by the Wichita chapter of NOW (National Organization of Women). Mary is being honored for her activism for peace with justice and her commitment to women’s equality in Church and society. Mary has been an inspiration and a mentor to generations of women (and men) in Kansas and beyond.

Members of the Pax Christi Anti-Racism team at their gathering in Illinois last month

Members of the Pax Christi Anti-Racism team at their gathering in Illinois last month

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Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Apr. 22: Earth Day

Apr. 23: Breaking the Silence: Confronting Race, Power and Privilege. Pax Christi Michigan’s state conference, in Lansing, MI

Apr. 23: “A Future Covenant,” Justice and Spirituality Convocation in Stirling, NJ

Apr. 25-May 1: SOA Delegation to the Border; contact marialuisa@soaw.org

Apr. 30: Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore Spring Retreat, “Let Creation Call Us More Deeply to God,” with PCUSA Teacher of Peace Rev. John Rausch, glmy

May 1: Feast of St. Joseph the WorkerMay Day

May 3: The Challenge of Peace anniversary

May 4: Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA and PCUSA Program Director Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN will present a training for Loyola University Cabinet Members, Baltimore on Racial Justice

May 5: Feast of the Ascension

May 6-8: Atlantic Life Community Retreat at Mariandale Retreat Center in Ossining, New York; contact Scott Langley at scott@scottlangleyphoto.com

May 7: Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA and PCUSA Program Director Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN will present a training at St. Boniface, Brooklyn, NY on Racial Justice

May 8: Mother’s Day

May 9: PCUSA Teacher of Peace Rev. Daniel Berrigan’s birthday; also Peter Maurin and Sophie Scholl

May 14: “We Grow Together,” Pax Christi USA and Communities of Color workshop, Washington DC

May 15: Pentecost

May 15: Peacemakers Awards Reception with Pax Christi Metro New York: Contact PCMNY to register now: 212-420-0250, info@nypaxchristi.org, or http://www.nycharities.org/events/EventLevels.aspx?ETID=8977.

May 21: Feast of Blessed Franz Jaeggerstaetter

May 28-June 11: Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Colombia

May 30: Memorial Day

June 7-12: Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

June 29-July 2: Starvin for Justice: Annual Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty in Washington, D.C.

Aug. 12-14: Pax Christi USA National Gathering in Linthicum, MD

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Quicklinks:

Pax Christi members in Pennsylvania, under the leadership of Fr. Bernie Survil, are passing out the election guide, A Revolution of Tenderness, to parishes and religious communities in their state … Mercy Sister and long-time PCUSA member Diane Guerin was interviewed in NCR … Over 25 activists were arrested at the Shut Down Creech action earlier this month … Local news shot this video of Pax Christi Harrisburg (PA) during their Good Friday Way of the Cross … Pax Christi El Paso publicly declares their opposition to endless war by joining Border Peace Presence on Fridays from noon to 1:00 p.m. in front of the Federal Court House (corner of Campbell and San Antonio) … NCR ran an interview with long-time Pax Christi New Jersey member Rev. Ron Cioffi about him and his parish’s commitment to social justice … PC Illinois member Sr. Karen Nykiel presented on “The Spirituality of Aging” at a conference at Benedictine UniversityPax Christi Young Adult member Vickie Machado was interviewed in this article about U.S.-Cuba relations following her trip there earlier this year … Pax Christi Northeast Florida co-sponsored an anti-death penalty event with Marietta Jaeger-Lane of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation … Registration for the 2016 Pax Christi USA National Gathering in Maryland is now open … Pax Christi International’s April 2016 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2016 edition of The Peace Current

ON THE LINE: January 2016 edition – Vote for Marie! Bernie Kopera, PRESENTE! and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners.

marienomforpeaceprize-bigPAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL CO-PRESIDENT MARIE DENNIS IS FINALIST FOR PUBLIC PEACE PRIZE; VOTE NOW! (from Pax Christi International) We are pleased to tell you that Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, has been nominated for the 2016 Public Peace Prize. This prize is the only one in the world which is based on the public’s choices. The voting is open until 24 January, 2016. To vote for Marie Dennis you have three possibilities: 1) Vote on the Public Peace Prize website: Visit the webpage presenting Marie (each visitor = 1 vote) or leave an appreciative comment on the bottom of the page (each comment = 3 votes). See Marie’s nomination page here. 2) On Public Peace Prize’s Facebook page: Click “Like” below the posting presenting Marie. To increase the number of votes, click on the “share” button. See the posting here. 3) On Public Peace Prize’s Twitter account: “Retweet” the tweets presenting Marie. See the tweet here.

On December 23 PC Houston members helped to distribute Christmas gifts to children who were leaving the Harris County Jail with their parents. The children had been visiting their loved ones in the jail. The event is sponsored by End Mass Incarceration Houston with the support of other organizations.

On December 23 PC Houston members helped to distribute Christmas gifts to children who were leaving the Harris County Jail with their parents. The children had been visiting their loved ones in the jail. The event is sponsored by End Mass Incarceration Houston with the support of other organizations.

PAX CHRISTI INDIANAPOLIS SUPPORTS ARCHBISHOP ON REFUGEE RESPONSE: In a letter to Archbishop Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, PC Indianapolis wrote, “We, the members of Pax Christi of Indianapolis, are supportive of and encouraged by your courageous actions and example in deciding to accept the Syrian refugee family to our Indiana home.  Your words and your decision have sent a strong message of Christianity and the words of Christ to ‘love one another.’ Thank you for your leadership and the message of justice you have sent.” The Archbishop had decided to go through with the refugee relocation over objections from the Governor of Indiana.

Seven people were arrested at a Pentagon peace witness on the Feast of the Holy Innocents following the Faith and Resistance Retreat. See more photos at https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AmZMEAszDHL4CtM&id=D886EDE2FD42F445%21882&cid=D886EDE2FD42F445

Seven people were arrested at a Pentagon peace witness on the Feast of the Holy Innocents following the Faith and Resistance Retreat. See more photos at http://1drv.ms/1PeViuD

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS SPONSORS WORLD PEACE DAY INTERFAITH SERVICE: (from Tom Cordaro, Pax Christi Illinois) Pax Christi Illinois was a major sponsor and organizer of the 2016 World Peace Day Interfaith Prayer Service, celebrated January 3, in Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College in Illinois. Over 300 people attended. The event was co-sponsored by Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Christian Scientist and other faith communities. Click on the following link to read the speech given by Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Tom Cordaro at the event: https://paxchristiusa.org/2016/01/13/reflection-the-cross-and-the-call-to-reconciliation/

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Participants in the World Peace Day Interfaith Prayer Service in Illinois.

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS ACTIVIST BERNIE KOPERA PASSES: It is with great sadness that we share with you that Bernie Kopera of Pax Christi Illinois, who we featured in last month’s OTL, passed away on Christmas Day from a heart attack. Bernie was 71. You can read a longer article in the Chicago Tribune celebrating and remembering Bernie’s life at http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-bernie-kopera-obit-st-1229-20151228-story.html.

Bernie Kopera, in back with right hand raised, at the SOA march to the detention center in Stewart, with other members of PC Illinois.

Bernie Kopera, in back with right hand raised and sunglasses, at the SOA march to the detention center in Stewart, with other members of PC Illinois, Nov. 2015.

Lent2016bookletcoverPAX CHRISTI REFLECTION BOOKLET FOR LENT AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK! The Lent 2016 reflection booklet, “Everything is Grace: Reflections for Lent 2016,” is now available for purchase and download at the Pax Christi USA store as an electronic book. The book is authored by Tonie Malone (PC New Jersey); Nancy Small (PC Massachusetts); Allison Blay (PC Florida); Cathy Crayton (PC Southern California); Eric LeCompte (PC Metro D.C.-Baltimore), Kwame Assenyoh, SVD; and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN. To purchase and download this excellent resource, go to http://paxchristiusa.3dcartstores.com/Lent-2016–e-BOOK–DAILY-REFLECTIONS–NO-HARD-COPY-WILL-BE-SENT_p_297.html 

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Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Jan. 26: Bishop Gumbleton’s birthday

Jan. 29-31: Pax Christi USA National Council meeting in Bay St. Louis, MS

Jan. 31: Peacemaking thru the Arts with Pax Christi Metro New York, Greenwich Village, NYC

Feb: Black History Month

Feb. 4: Birth of Rosa Parks, 1913

Feb. 5: Christian Peace Witness for Syria and We Refuse To Be Enemies Interfaith group’s day-long planning meeting, the Methodist Building, Washington D.C.; to attend or join by teleconference, contact Bob Cooke of Pax Christi International at cookerh1251@gmail.com.

Feb. 10: Nelson Mandela released, 1990

Feb. 10: Ash Wednesday

Feb. 12: NAACP founded, 1909

Feb. 14: Frederick Douglass, b. 1818

Feb. 20: World Day of Social Justice

March: Women’s History Month

Mar. 1: International Death Penalty Abolition Day

Mar. 2-13: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “Workers’ Voice Tour”, Eastern U.S.

Mar. 8: International Women’s Day

Mar. 13: Election of Pope Francis, 2013

Mar. 20: Palm Sunday

Mar. 21-27: Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination

Mar. 22: World Water Day

Mar. 24: Holy Thursday, Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero

Mar. 25: Good Friday, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Mar. 27: Easter

Mar. 31: Cesar Chavez, b. 1927

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Quicklinks:

Pax Christi Michigan and its Lansing chapter celebrated “Pax Christi Lansing’s 9th Annual Interfaith New Year Community Peace Prayer Service” on January 1 … Pax Christi USA joins with the rest of the Pax Christi world community in giving thanks for the contributions of Jose Henriquez who left his position as Pax Christi International Secretary General in December … Read this report-back from PC Metro DC-Baltimore member Sr. Veronica Schweyen who was on a SHARE delegation to El Salvador in December … Fr. Jim Murphy was sentenced to 5 days in jail in Wisconsin for his anti-drone action … Blue Water (MI) Pax Christi had their Christmas billboard featured in this article in a local newspaper …  Srs. Patricia Chappell and Anne-Louise Nadeau, executive director and director of programs, respectively, of Pax Christi USA, led a peace retreat on racism at the Carondelet Hospitality Center in Latham, NY in conjunction with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Justice Committee of the Albany Province … Former PCUSA National Council chair and member of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore Judy Coode was quoted in an article from CNS on the immigration and refugee crisis … A colleague from Pax Christi Germany was quoted in this article in the NY Times on the refugee crisis … The Winter edition of Kerux from Pax Christi Metro New York is now online … Pax Christi International’s January 2016 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall-Winter 2015-16 edition of The Peace Current

ON THE LINE: December 2015 edition includes efforts in support of migrants, refugees, victims of gun violence, and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners.

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS ACTIVISTS HELP KILL PLAN FOR IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER: (from The Chicago Tribune) Bernie Kopera and Concetta Smart are so often together fighting for the underdogs that people often assume they are married to each other. They are not. Yet the pair of Southland residents have formed an alliance that has enabled them to successfully oppose plans for a for-profit immigration detention center in the Chicago area. First in Crete, then in Joliet and Hobart, Ind., and most recently in Gary, they banded together with others to defeat the proposals. Recently they stepped in to help those fighting the latest plan — a center across from the Gary/Chicago Airport where undocumented immigrants would be held until they could be deported… Read the entire article http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-immigrant-detention-center-activists-st-1115-20151118-story.html

Pax Christi Los Angeles members participate in a community prayer vigil to protest conditions at Los Angeles Men's Central Twin Tower Jail in September.

Pax Christi Los Angeles members participate in a community prayer vigil to protest conditions at Los Angeles Men’s Central Twin Tower Jail in September.

PAX CHRISTI METROWEST (MA) CO-SPONSORS EVENT TO END GUN VIOLENCE: (from The MetroWest Daily News) NATICK, MA – Thoughts and prayers are nice, but to end gun violence, more has to be done, state Rep. David Linsky told a group of about 60 anti-gun violence advocates. Speaking at a Community Interfaith Gathering at the Common Street Spiritual Center on Saturday, the Natick Democrat said it is time for action. … The gathering was co-sponsored by the spiritual center, the First Congregational Church in Natick, Temple Israel of Natick, Pax Christi MetroWest, Fisk United Methodist Church and the Massachusetts Chapter of Brady Campaign. To read the entire article, go to: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20151212/NEWS/151218369

This is the fourth year Blue Water PC has put up this billboard to promote peace, charity, and prayerful nonviolence. Councils of local Knights of Columbus and many local church and community members have been supportive. The billboard appears above the Chamber of Commerce building for one month beginning Dec. 23.

This is the fourth year Blue Water (MI) PC has put up this billboard to promote peace, charity, and prayerful nonviolence. Councils of local Knights of Columbus and many local church and community members have been supportive. The billboard appears above the Chamber of Commerce building for one month beginning Dec. 23.

Bishop Gumbleton and Ruben Garcia at Momentum 2012

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and 2012 PCUSA Teacher of Peace Ruben Garcia

AMERICA MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS BISHOP GUMBLETON: (from America) Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton is a writer and retired Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was also the founding president of Pax Christi USA and a co-founder of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. Bishop Gumbleton earned a B.A. degree in 1952, a M.Div. degree in 1956 and then later earned a J.C.D in 1964. On Aug. 28, I interviewed Bishop Gumbleton by telephone about his life and work. The following transcript has been edited for style and length… Read the interview at http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/social-justice-all-interview-bishop-thomas-gumbleton

PAX CHRISTI METRO DC-BALTIMORE ELECTS NEW COUNCIL, HONORS PEACEMAKER: Effective January 1, Mary Liepold will be the new chairperson of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, replacing Bob Cooke and Bob More. Other officers include Dennis Warner, Vice Chairperson; Luis Cabrales, Secretary; and Luann Mostello, Treasurer. The rest of the council includes Bob Cooke, Jack McHale, Tony Langbehn, Bro. Brian McLaughlin, Chuck Michaels, Katie Murphy, Sr. Roni Schweyen, and Pierre Thompson. … Also, on November 14, PC Metro DC-Baltimore held their Eighth Annual Peacemaker of the Year Event. The 2015 award recipient was Fr. Gerry Creedon, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City, Virginia, former pastor of St. Charles, Chair of the Diocese of Arlington Peace and Justice Commission, and a tireless advocate for peace and justice in our region. Read more at http://www.paxchristimetrodc.org/2015/10/fr-gerry-creedon-named-2015-peacemaker-of-the-year/

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Pax Christi Texas members Sr. Ceil Roeger and Dave Atwood participated in a DACA/DAPA immigration rally in Houston on November 20, 2015.

PC SAN ANTONIO (TX) MEMBERS PRAY FOR PEACE FOLLOWING TERROR ATTACKS: (from Fox San Antonio) SAN ANTONIO – Faith leaders and residents prayed for peace at a candlelight vigil Sunday night. Recent terror attacks and the national debate over Syrian refugees led more than a hundred to attend. … In silence, attendees circled a peace pole for more than half an hour on the University of the Incarnate Word campus. … Anthony Blasi, leader of Pax Christi San Antonio, said he’s also concerned people want to stop refugees. “We have always been a nation that welcomed all kinds of people,” Blasi said, “and we shouldn’t start changing our ways because of some lunatics in the alleged state of ISIS.” Read more at http://www.foxsanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/faith-leaders-residents-pray-peace-at-vigil-after-terror-attacks-17750.shtml#.VnDZJ_krLIU

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Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Dec. 25: Christmas

Dec. 27: Holy Family observance

Dec. 27-28: Feast of the Holy Innocents Retreat and Action at STRATCOM headquarters in Omaha, NE; contact frank.cordaro@gmail.com or 515 292-4781 for more info; for peace witness in DC, contact: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker at 202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com

Dec. 28: Massacre of the Holy Innocents observance

Jan. 1: World Day of Peace

Jan. 3: Epiphany observance

Jan. 3-13: Witness Against Torture Fast and Action in DC

Jan. 15: Birth of MLK, 1929

Jan. 15-16: Rotary World Peace Conference in Ontario, CA; Pax Christi will have a table thanks to PC Southern California members

Jan. 18: MLK Day observance

Jan. 26: Bishop Gumbleton’s birthday

Jan. 29-31: Pax Christi USA National Council meeting in Bay St. Louis, MS

Feb: Black History Month

Feb. 4: Birth of Rosa Parks, 1913

Feb. 10: Nelson Mandela released, 1990

Feb. 10: Ash Wednesday

Feb. 12: NAACP founded, 1909

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Quicklinks:

PC Metro DC-Baltimore helped coordinate a dinner during the annual USCCB meetings at which bishops and others dined with local activists … Pax Christi Fremont (CA) is co-hosting an interfaith prayer service for peace on Dec. 31 … Pax Christi New Jersey was represented at the New Jersey Peace Action gathering on Nov. 14 where Kathy O’ Leary, PCNJ coordinator, presented the Hope Shapiro Bread and Roses Peace Award to featured speaker Sister Megan Rice … PC Northern California leader Tom Webb wrote an article on immigrationPC International intern Tabitha Redeppening wrote a reflection on the COP21 talks for the PCI blog … PC South Dakota Presentation Sisters JoAnn Sturzl and Myra Remily traveled in the Veterans for Peace bus from Minneapolis to the SOA this year. You can read their reflections online herePC El Paso members joined El Paso Bishop Seitz for Posadas sin Fronteras, a prayer and witness for migrants and their families, on Dec. 13 … PC Memphis signed onto a letter from the ACLU asking Tennessee Governor Haslam to rescind his request to suspend Syrian refugee resettlement in Tennessee … Visit the Pax Christi San Antonio (TX) website for upcoming events and photos … Pax Christi International’s December 2015 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall-Winter 2015-16 edition of The Peace Current

DEATH PENALTY: The zeal of pro-death penalty advocates

dave-atwoodby David Atwood
Pax Christi Texas

I am continually amazed how far death penalty advocates will go to perpetuate the machinery of death in Texas. This time pro-death penalty legislators in Austin are pushing a bill  that would shield the identity of the suppliers of the lethal drugs used to execute prisoners in Huntsville. The rationale of these legislators is that the suppliers of these drugs will no longer provide them for executions if their identity is revealed and that executions might come to a grinding halt as a result.  Now wouldn’t that be terrible.

No death penaltyOver the years, the proponents of capital punishment have used many arguments to continue to kill prisoners. Here are some examples and my reply to their arguments:

  1. Rationale: If we don’t execute these people, they will kill again.  My Reply: Texas now has “life without parole” as an optional punishment for capital murder.  This sentence allows us to keep society safe without becoming killers ourselves.
  1. Rationale: The death penalty deters others from committing murder. My Reply: There is no firm evidence that the death penalty deters others from committing murder.  In fact, several studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter others from committing murder.  Most murderers are not thinking about consequences or do not think that they will be caught. Many are high on alcohol or drugs and are not thinking clearly. Criminal justice experts have said that murder rates are primarily affected by demographics, economics, the drug trade and community policing efforts.
  1. Rationale: If we speed up executions, they would be a greater deterrent to violent crime. My Reply: Speeding up executions would also mean that the chances of executing an innocent person would increase.
  1. Rationale: The death penalty gives the family of the victim “closure”. My Reply: While an execution may give some families of victims the satisfacion of “payback”, there is little evidence that an execution actually provides “closure” or any semblance of “healing”. What does bring healing is a loving community that helps the family through the ordeal they are experiencing and move on with their lives in a positive fashion.
  1. Rationale: The death penalty saves the state money. My Reply: The high legal expenses associated with the death penalty make it significantly more expensive than life in prison. This wasted money could be better spent on effective crime prevention programs and victims’ services.
  1. Rationale: The only people who get the death penalty are the “worst of the worst”. My Reply: Whether someone ends up on death row or not has more to do with the quality of the accused’s legal defense, the race of the victim, politics and geography.
  1. Rationale: People who commit murder are monsters who deserve to die. My Reply: It is true that a person who commits murder has done a monstrous thing and caused great suffering. However, if one looks into the background of people on death row, what you often find is a history of horrible child abuse and neglect, mental disabilities and drug/alcohol abuse. Furthermore, once confined in prison, many people become rehabilitated and are no longer a threat to society.
  1. Rationale: Our criminal justice system is fair to all people and ensures that we always get the right person. My Reply: We are aware of 12 exonerated death row prisoners in Texas alone and over 150 nationwide. There is also good evidence that Texas has executed several innocent people. The death penalty system is a human system that is imperfect and will always remain so.
  1. Rationale: The death penalty is needed to “restore order” to society. My Reply: This is not the experience of many states and nations. Eighteen U.S. states have abolished the death penalty and seem to be doing fine. However, murders still occur on a regular basis in Texas although we have had more than 520 executions. Many people believe that we would have more “order ” in our society and less crime if we would spend more of our scarce financial resources on effective crime prevention measures such as improved child protective services, youth and family services, mental health services and prisoner rehabilitation programs.
  1. Rationale: The Bible demands an “eye for an eye” approach to justice. My Reply: The “eye for an eye” concept comes for the Old Testament. This concept continues a cycle of violence and vengeance in society. In the New Testament, Jesus rejects the “eye for an eye” concept and replaces it with compassion, forgiveness and mercy. “Restorative justice” is a smarter approach to crime than “retributive justice”.

In summary, the zeal of the pro-death penalty advocates is misplaced. If they want to make society safer, they should advocate for crime prevention programs that are truly effective.

David Atwood is the Founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

ON THE LINE: June 2014 edition includes election results, death penalty activism, peace award, and more!

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

QUICK NOTE FROM NATIONAL: The results of the National Council election are in and we’re pleased to announce that Jean Stokan and Sr. Rose Marie Tresp, RSM have been elected as new members of the council, and current vice-chair Cathy Woodson was re-elected to another term. Additionally Edward Martinez and Cynthia Morris-Colbert have been added to the council to fill appointed positions. Also, the Constitutional amendments passed and will be incorporated into PCUSA’s constitution.

Nick and Mary Eoloff

Nick and Mary Eoloff

GIVING THANKS FOR THE LIFE OF LONG-TIME MEMBER NICK EOLOFF: (by Florence Steichen, Pax Christi MN) Veterans, peace-makers and workers for justice, people of Guatemala and Palestine, and countless others lost a dear friend and faithful supporter when Nick Eoloff, 84, died May 24 in St. Paul. Nick Eoloff was a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserves. Nick married Mary Lou Bunting December 26, 1955; they are the parents of six children, 14 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Among their many works for peace, Nick and Mary adopted Mordechai Vanunu, in 1996 when Mordechai was serving an 18 year prison term in Israel for revealing the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. They visited him in prison, corresponded with him, and enlisted friends to write to Mordechai. Mary and Nick last saw Mordechai in 2005, after his release from prison in 2004, and have remained in contact. Mary phoned when Nick died, and knew that Mordechai could not come to Nick’s funeral because his freedom of movement is severely restricted even though he finished his sentence 10 years ago… Read this entire article at https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/06/04/obituary-remembering-long-time-pax-christi-usa-member-nick-eoloff/

PAX CHRISTI FLORIDA HOSTS WORKSHOP FOR CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, PCF MEMBERS: (by Johnny Zokovitch) On Saturday, May 17, over 30 participants gathered at Barry University for the 4th in a series of workshops entitled, “We Grow Together: Pax Christi USA and Catholic Communities of Color,” hosted by Pax Christi Florida. Members of the Archdiocese’s Office of Black Catholic Ministry, leaders from several parishes, Pax Christi local group coordinators and state council members, and Pax Christi USA National Staff members were present for the all-day workshop which included overviews of Catholic Social Teaching and the priorities of Pax Christi USA, presentations on the corrective histories of African Americans and Latino/as in the Church, and sessions employing social analysis and planning for next steps… Read more here https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/19/news-pax-christi-florida-hosts-we-grow-together-pax-christi-usa-and-catholic-communities-of-color-workshop/

Participants in the "We Grow Together" workshop held at Barry Universiry in May and hosted by Pax Christi Florida.

Participants in the “We Grow Together” workshop held at Barry University in May and hosted by Pax Christi Florida.

PAX CHRISTI PHOENIX WITNESSES AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY: (from John Zemblidge) Pax Christi-Phoenix continues to witness to the nonviolent Christ in opposition to the death penalty in Arizona. For several years our chapter has sponsored prayer vigils on the eve of executions along with Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona and the Arizona Ecumenical Council. We traveled to Tucson in February to attend Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona’s annual meeting. An ongoing relationship has ensued between Pax Christi member Margaret McChesney and death row inmate Frank McCray. Several Pax Christi members continue to visit prisoners in Maricopa County Jail who are facing prosecutions that may result in sentences of death. Long-time members Inge Casey, Dan Peitzmeyer and Bob Basque continue to work tirelessly in addressing forums and meetings of other organizations involved in the abolition movement. On May 15, our chapter hosted Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery where we dialogued and discussed the death penalty in a peaceful and present manner. On May 18, Pax Christi-Phoenix participated in a peaceful prayer vigil outside the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton where the National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy will hold their annual meeting. Abolitionists view pharmacists as allies in the effort to stop executions. With the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on April 30, states like Arizona that use compounded drugs from non-corporate pharmacies face increased scrutiny.

PAX CHRISTI MEMPHIS HOSTS DAY-MERTON PLAY: (from Janice Vanderhaar) St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Memphis will collaborate with Pax Christi Memphis in presenting the two-hour play “Pilgrims and Prophets of Peace: Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton” written and performed by Pax Christi Southern California leaders Sharon and David Halsey-Hoover on Friday, June 20, 2014. There will be an informal meet-and-greet at 6:30 to welcome guests from the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Memphis Theological Seminary, and local congregations. For more information, see http://www.paxchristimemphis.org

Pax Christi USA staff Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN join other PCUSA members in calling for teh closing of Guantanamo.

Pax Christi USA staff Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN join other PCUSA members in calling for teh closing of Guantanamo. Photo by Ted Majdosz at http://photobyted.smugmug.com/CloseGuantanomo/Not-another-broken-promise-not/i-8GWTt5S

BISHOP ALEMANY SENIOR WINS PEACE SCHOLARSHIP: (from Sharon Halsey-Hoover) Earlier this month, Pax Christi Southern California recognized its choice for the Pax Christi Southern California Student of the Year Award. This year’s recipient is Eddie Motta, a senior and member of Pax Christi Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, CA.  The award includes a $250 scholarship to the college of his choice.

Donald Levan, Sharon Halsey-Hoover, award recipient Eddie Motta, and David Hoover of Pax Christi Southern California.

Donald Levan, Sharon Halsey-Hoover, award recipient Eddie Motta, and David Hoover of Pax Christi Southern California.

PAX CHRISTI LOS ANGELES REACHES OUT TO LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS: (from Sharon Halsey-Hoover) On Wednesday, May 12 Pax Christi Los Angeles held an informational meeting with four local high schools about Pax Christi and the starting of high school groups on their campuses.  Another six schools responded that they could not attend but would like more information. At the meeting, clips from the Pax Christi video were shown and Fr. Chris Ponnet, from Pax Christi Los Angeles, and Don Levan, from Bishop Alemany High School, spoke about the mission of Pax Christi and of how a group could add focus and opportunity to their attempts to address social justice concerns. In addition to the four Directors of Campus Ministry there were eleven students in attendance. After the meeting the attendees joined in the parish noon liturgy and then shared lunch. It was wonderful to experience so much interest in Pax Christi and in the desire for peace and nonviolence.

Pax Christi Los Angeles leadership share lunch with area directors of campus ministry and student leaders.

Pax Christi Los Angeles leadership share lunch with area directors of campus ministry and student leaders.

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

June – Torture Awareness Month, http://www.tassc.org and http://www.nrcat.org/

June 3-14 – On the Road to Ground the Drones action in Illinois and Michigan, https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/04/29/drones-on-the-road-to-ground-the-drones-action-june-3-14/

June 27 – Momentum 2014 Event in DC, https://paxchristiusa.org/programs/momentum-2014/

June 29-July 3 – Starvin for Justice: Fast and Vigil to End the Death Penalty, http://www.abolition.org/fastandvigil/; Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

July 18-20 – Annual Peacemakers’ Retreat with PCUSA Teacher of Peace Elizabeth McAlister and Frida Berrigan, in Pardox, NY, http://www.pyramidlife.org/programs/

Quicklinks:

Pax Christi Long Island member Nancy Dwyer had a letter published in Newsday on gun violence … Pax Christi Texas is asking all PCUSA members to keep Mac and Joyce Hall, long-time members, in your prayers. Mac is struggling with cancer and may not be with us much longer, writes Dave AtwoodPax Christi Hartford (CT) hosted Catholic Worker Cathy Breen this week to speak about her experiences working with Iraqi refugees … Long-time Pax Christi USA member Paul Magno has the opportunity to attend the War Resisters International meeting in South Africa in early July and help popularize what the Plowshares movement is about to an important international audience. Paul is raising funds to be able to attend. If you want to support him, contact him at pmagno@igc.org … The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has published a new newsletter, “Encounters: A Newsletter on Faith, Economy and Ecology.” Click here to see the latest edition and information on how to receive it … Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Eric LeCompte met with Pope Francis last month on behalf of the global Jubilee movement … Pax Christi International’s June 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2014 edition of The Peace Current

ON THE LINE: May 2014 edition includes Stations of the Cross reports, new workshop offering, and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

QUICK NOTE FROM NATIONAL: The Spring 2014 edition of our newsletter, The Peace Current, was sent out several weeks ago. If you have not received a copy, it means that your membership is not up-to-date. You can renew quick and easy on the website here: https://paxchristiusa.org/join-u/. To see the PDF version of the newsletter on the website, go to https://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/spring2014newsletter-web.pdf.

PAX CHRISTI ST. LOUIS HOSTS FIRST WORKSHOP WITH LOCAL CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES OF COLOR: (by Laura Kent) In mid-April, Pax Christi St. Louis hosted the first workshop, “We Grow Together: Catholic Communities of Color and Pax Christi USA.” The workshop is designed to bring together Catholic communities of color with members of various Pax Christi USA regions to create a community that is built on inclusivity and based on Gospel values. “If we do not count in our membership, members of the communities whom we would like to serve, then as a peace and justice organization, Pax Christi should shut down.” It was with this acknowledgement from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, that a group of twenty-one St. Louisans began a workshop at Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, April 12 to learn together about Pax Christi. Participants hailed from many parishes and local organizations, all with the common cause of working for justice… Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/04/29/news-pax-christi-usa-holds-first-workshop-with-catholic-communities-of-color-in-st-louis/

Sr. Patty Chappell, PCUSA Executive Director, opens the gathering.

Sr. Patty Chappell, PCUSA Executive Director, opens the workshop “We Grow Together: Catholic Communities of Color and Pax Christi USA” in St. Louis.

PAX CHRISTI GROUPS THROUGHOUT THE NATION HOST GOOD FRIDAY WAY OF THE CROSS EVENTS: Over two dozen Pax Christi USA local groups hosted or co-sponsored a “Way of the Cross” event on Good Friday, connecting the sufferings of Christ during his passion with the suffering of our brothers and sisters at the hands of violence, greed, poverty, sickness and war. In this edition of “On The Line”, you can see photos (below) from PC Illinois and PC South Dakota participating in these events. Several groups, like PC Metro New York, received local news coverage of their events. Mohawk Valley Pax Christi in Utica, NY sent us this link to the opening reflection of their Stations of the Cross, posted on the website of the local newspaper: http://www.uticaod.com/section?template=videodetail&vid=3482951928001&vidtitle=The%20Mohawk%20Valley%20Pax%20Christi%20Outdoor%20Stations%20of%20the%20Cross

Pax Christi Southeastern SD, South Dakota Peace & Justice Center, South Dakotans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Just Peace held a Good Friday Noon Vigil, April 18, 2014, at the South Dakota State Penitentiary flagpole. We witnessed in prayer, song, and silence our opposition to the Death Penalty in SD. Following the prayer service, participants were given the opportunity to sign and have notarized a Declaration of Life document.

PC Southeastern South Dakota held a Good Friday Noon Vigil at the South Dakota State Penitentiary with various partners. Following the prayer service, participants were given the opportunity to sign and have notarized a Declaration of Life document. Photo by Leona Weiland.

By Nancy Oetter from the 34th Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice.  Pax Christi IL was a co-sponsor of this event organized by 8th Day Center for Justice.

The 34th Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice in Chicago. PC Illinois was a co-sponsor of this event with the 8th Day Center for Justice. Photo by Nancy Oetter.

PC METRO NEW YORK HONORS 2014 PEACEMAKERS: (from Rosemarie Pace) Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) is very proud to announce this year’s honorees and to celebrate not only their accomplishments but also what they stand for. This year’s Peacemakers are exceptional in their commitment to end gun violence, abolish nuclear weapons, advocate for Palestinian rights, and serve the poor and needy. They stand strong in their resolve to offer compassionate alternatives inspired by their values and beliefs. On Sunday, June 1st, Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) will be paying tribute to Sandy Hook Promise; Maryknoll Sister Jean Fallon; and The Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation… Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/08/regional-news-pax-christi-metro-ny-honors-2014-peacemakers/

PC MASSACHUSETTS INCLUDES REFLECTION FROM DEATH ROW INMATE IN STATIONS OF THE CROSS: (from Pat Ferrone) Members of Pax Christi Massachusetts co-sponsored the annual Stations of the Cross in front of the Boston Statehouse on Good Friday. Station 11 was the presentation of a piece written by a man with whom PC-MA state coordinator Pat Ferrone has been communicating for the last 1.5 years. Marc James Asay has been on Death Row in Florida since he was 23, and is now 50. You can read his reflection at https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/05/reflection-living-in-the-shadow-of-death/

2104 march madness 217Pax Christi Long Island member Jacqueline Jill Rito brought a small group of students to Italy recently, covering Rome, Florence and Assisi for Holy Week 2014. She snapped this photo (to the left), writing that “the inspirational feeling and word in Rome regarding ‘the people’s Pope’ was palpable – witness this drawing on a street-sign advertisement across from Castel Sant’Angelo, just down the street from St. Peter’s Basilica.” Thanks for sharing!

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

May 15 – International Conscientious Objection Day, https://paxchristiusa.org/programs/conscientious-objection/

May 17 – Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore’s annual assembly, “From Just War to Just Peace in the Age of St. Francis,” http://www.paxchristimetrodc.org/2014/04/register-now-annual-assembly-may-17-at-gonzaga-college-high-school/

May 23 – Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo, https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/13/take-action-may-23rd-is-global-day-of-action-to-close-guantanamo/. Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

May 29 – National Call-in Day for Justice for Immigrants, http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml; Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

June – Torture Awareness Month, http://www.tassc.org and http://www.nrcat.org/

June 3-14 – On the Road to Ground the Drones action in Illinois and Michigan, https://paxchristiusa.org/2014/04/29/drones-on-the-road-to-ground-the-drones-action-june-3-14/

June 27 – Momentum 2014 Event in D.C., https://paxchristiusa.org/programs/momentum-2014/

June 29-July 3 – Starvin for Justice: Fast and Vigil to End the Death Penalty, http://www.abolition.org/fastandvigil/; Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

Quicklinks:

PC Southern California recently showed Brave New Films’ new movie, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” and shared that its producers would very much like to have viewings at other Pax Christi events. If your region or group is interested, contact Tim Molina at timothy@bravenewfoundation.orgLeona Wieland and members of the Southeastern South Dakota Chapter of Pax Christi hosted a “Take Back the Night Vigil” at the site of a recent murder in Sioux Falls … You can watch the 2014 Vanderhaar Symposium, in honor of PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Gerry Vanderhaar, at this link on YouTubePittsburgh-area Pax Christi hosted PCUSA Ambassador of Peace John Dear earlier this week to talk about nonviolence … Read Pax Christi Metro New York’s Easter reflection … Check out the new video from Campaign Nonviolence … PC Texas member Dave Atwood wrote this reflection about his friendship with a young man on death row … Pax Christi International’s May 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2014 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: Dominique – lessons in forgiveness

dave-atwoodby David Atwood, Pax Christi Texas and Founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

If I ever had a doubt about my work to abolish the death penalty, that doubt came to a crashing halt when the State of Texas executed Dominique Green, a young African-American man from Houston, on October 26, 2004.

I had been visiting Dominique on Texas Death Row for many years. When I first visited him, he was an angry young man – angry at his mother and father, angry at society, and angry at the criminal justice system that sent him to death row. But over the years, I saw him change. He forgave his mother who had abused him as a child and caused him to leave home and live on the streets of Houston. He forgave the gang members who had pointed to him as the person who had pulled the trigger that sent Andrew Lastrape to his grave during a robbery in Houston. He forgave everyone in his life whom he felt had failed him in some way.

Dominique Green

Dominique Green

Dominique became educated and grew to be a man in prison. In addition to myself, several people from Italy, including several members of the Sant’ Egidio Community in Rome, visited and wrote him on a regular basis. His interest in forgiveness came in part from reading Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s book No Future Without Forgiveness. He wanted to meet Tutu and this was made possible by well-known author, Thomas Cahill, who knew the Archbishop. After Tutu visited Dominique on death row, he spoke to the press and stated that Dominique was a “wonderful advertisement for God….I was very humbled to be in his presence because I felt to be in the presence of God…(Dominique) is not the monster that many would expect or think, but a human being, a human being that has grown…He’s like a flower opening and you see the petals coming up, particularly when he is speaking about his concern for others…He is a remarkable young man and it would be the greatest of tragedies if someone like Dominique was executed.”

Dominique not only forgave the people who had hurt him, he also taught other prisoners on death row that they should forgive the people who had hurt them. This extraordinary transformation caused Thomas Cahill to write a book about Dominique that he titled A Saint on Death Row .

As Dominique’s execution approached, his appeals attorney, Sheila Murphy of Chicago, asked if I could locate the family of Andrew Lastrape in Houston and ask them if they wanted Dominique to be executed. When I located the family, Bernatte Lastrape and her two sons Andre and Andrew, they all gave a resounding “no” to the question of the execution. They wanted to give Dominique a second chance at life. Bernatte actually wrote to Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and asked them to spare Dominique’s life. Bernatte wrote, “All of us have forgiven Dominique for what happened and we want to give him another chance at life. Everyone deserves another chance.” Perry and the Board refused to do so, showing the hard-heartedness of the politicized Texas criminal justice system. As the execution date got closer, Andre and Andrew traveled to death row with me to meet and reconcile with Dominique. It was a most extraordinary experience. When Andre came out of prison, he said, “Texas is going to put a righteous person to die like an animal, putting him on a table, strapping him up, putting those needles in his arms, putting him to sleep. We’re not dogs. We’re human beings just anybody else. He’s a human being just like me, just like you.”

Andre and Andrew also attended the vigil outside the execution chamber at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas, to protest Dominique’s execution. I was inside the prison attending the execution of a man who had transformed his life and had a lot of wisdom to share with society. It was very painful experience to see Dominique die before my very eyes. Before the execution, Dominique made me promise that I would fight against the death penalty until it was abolished. His last words to his friends as he lay on the execution guerney were, “Thank you for your love and support…I have overcome a lot…I am not angry but disappointed that I was denied justice….But I am happy that I afforded you all as family and friends…..You all have been there for me…It’s a miracle…I love you…Thanks for allowing me to touch so many hearts….I never thought I could do it. ”

After the execution, we held a funeral for Dominique in Houston. Then my wife and I took his remains to Italy. The Community of Sant’ Egidio built a monument to his memory in Rome.

Guilty or Not?

Dominique was one of four boys who robbed Andrew Lastrape in Houston in October of 1992. He was the youngest of the four boys and the three older boys pointed the finger at him as the person who shot Lastrape during the robbery. Dominique always maintained that he was not the shooter. What I found most distrurbing about the legal proceedings was that Dominique was the only one to get the death penalty. Two of the other African-American boys in the gang got prison sentences and the one white boy in the gang did not go to prison at all although he was involved in the robbery. It appeared to me that Dominique’s legal representation had been very poor and he had been railroaded to death row.

Lessons Learned

Through my years visiting Dominique and other men on death row, I have learned many things about how the death penalty is applied in Texas. First of all, our criminal justice system is imperfect. Several innnocent people have been sentenced to death. Many factors enter into whether someone is sentenced to death or not, including the quality of the legal defense, the race of the offender and the victim, and where the crime takes place. Poor people are at a great disadvantage when it comes to avoiding capital punishment in Texas because they simply do not have the funds to hire the best defense attorneys. The death penalty is truly “arbitrary and capricious” despite attempts to improve the criminal justice system.

Second, I learned that rehabilitation in prison often occurs, but means nothing to the politicians who run the system. Mercy and clemency are almost unknown qualities in Texas. Dominique was a prime example of this, but several other rehabilitated people such as James Allridge have been executed in Texas.

Third, many families of victims do not want the death penalty for someone convicted of capital murder. The Lastrape Family is a wonderful example, but there are many people like them. They know that an execution will not bring back their loved one nor bring them the healing that they desperately want and need.

Fourth, the death penalty does not deter others from committing violent crime. I have been told this by several death row prisoners and professional studies have shown this to be true. However, what might reduce violent crime in society are more effective crime prevention measures. Many people on death row were horribly abused and neglected as children and many have untreated mental disabilities. The millions of dollars wasted on the death penalty could be better used to actually prevent violent crime as well as help the victims of crime.

A Higher Road

Although Dominique Green was involved in a crime where an innocent man was murdered, his transformation in prison has a lot to offer society. His ability to forgive, and the ability of the Lastrape family to forgive, are excellent models for society. Just because someone kills, we as a society don’t have to kill in return, and we should not. We can choose a more enlightened response, a higher road, that involves forgiveness, rehabilitation and the wise use of taxpayers’ dollars.

Dominique’s Legacy Lives On

Many people would be surprised that a death row prisoner, one that had been executed, would leave a legacy. But Dominique Green definitely has left one. He taught many people, including other death row prisoners, the importance of forgiveness. He showed people that prisoners, even those on death row, can change and contribute to society. And he motivated me to continue the fight against the death penalty until it is finally abolished. Without his example, I may have given up trying to abolish the death penalty in Texas for it is, indeed, difficult work. But in Dominique’s memory, I will never give up.