I have been invited by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio (CSE) to take part in the “World Day of Cities for Life/Cities Against the Death Penalty Campaign” and speak in Italy about my experience as a murder victim family member. It has been a great privilege for me to be invited by CSE to speak in different countries during the last five years. In 2007 I spoke in Rome, in 2008 I went to Spain, in 2009 I traveled to Mozambique, in 2010 I visited Germany, and last year I spoke in northeast and central Italy. These trips were extraordinary faith-filled experiences. This year, from November 25 – December 1, I will speak in the northwest part of Italy, mainly in Novara and Turin, and then on to Rome for the last two days. I leave on November 24 and return to the U.S. on December 4.
I am especially grateful to my wife, Colleen, and son Carlos, to community members Mike Walli, Kathy Boylan, Amber and Kevin Mason, and to all the extended Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community, for their support of me being able to make this trip at this time. And I am very grateful to each of you who receive this for your heartfelt prayers and support.
I can’t believe that thirteen years have passed since my brother, Paul, was murdered. As I travel to Italy I carry Paul in my heart. I also ask you to continue to pray with me for healing for Dennis Soutar, who remains in a Connecticut prison hospital for killing Paul.
Globally, there are both encouraging signs and great challenges regarding efforts to end the death penalty. Thankfully, 141 countries and 17 states in the U.S. no longer practice the death penalty. However, of 198 countries 20 carried out executions last year. More than 18,750 people currently await execution in various countries, including over 3,170 in the U.S. Five people in the U.S. are scheduled for execution in December.The CSE sponsored “Cities for Life Campaign” is but one of many efforts to help bring about total worldwide abolition of state-sanctioned murder.
I have been invited to Italy to share my story as a murder victim family member who opposes the death penalty and to speak about Gospel Nonviolence. I will be speaking mostly in schools and at community meetings.
At this time of Thanksgiving, and as we approach Advent, let us give thanks to God for the miracle of life, for the gift of one another, and for the countless blessings we have been given. Let us pray for each other, that the spirit of love and nonviolence can take deep root in our hearts, and the hearts of people everywhere, as we strive to create the Beloved Community and make God’s reign of justice and peace a reality in our world. Let us seek to make the Word flesh in all we do as we strive to be God’s peace and justice makers.
With love and gratitude,