As reported in The Catholic Key, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City - St. Joseph has joined other Missouri Catholic Bishops and faith leaders in seeking clemency for Dennis Skillicorn.
Unless Skillicorn's sentence is commuted to life without parole by Governor Matt Blunt, he will become the first person executed in Missouri in three years. His execution date is set for August 27.
Skillicorn never faces the possibility of parole and has been a model prisoner posing no threat to his fellow inmates. In a situation such as his, Catholic teaching is clear:
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
- Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267
Catholics wishing to join Bishop Finn in his witness to the sanctity of human life are encouraged to contact Governor Blunt's office directly by calling (573) 751-3222 and asking that Dennis Skillicorn's death sentence be commuted to life in prison. They can also sign a petition to Governor Blunt by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and address.
In addition, a number of vigils will be held throughout the diocese where people of faith will gather to pray for Dennis Skillicorn, those harmed by his actions, and for an abiding commitment to the sanctity of all life.
Independence, Missouri -- Eucharistic Adoration and Overnight Vigil, 7:00 p.m., Friday, August 22 to 7:00 a.m., Saturday, August 23., at Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist Chapel. Please contact Sharon Echols to sign-up for a specific time for this overnight vigil, (816) 304-7518.
Kansas City, Missouri -- Vigil, Tuesday, August 26, 5:00 - 6:00 pm, J.C. Nichols Fountain in the Plaza. For more information, please call Donnie Morehouse, at (816) 756-3113, ext. 234.
Savannah, Missouri -- Vigil, Tuesday, August 26, 7:00 pm, LaVerna Heights Building, St. Francis Chapel. For more information, please call Sister Christine Martin, at (816) 324-3179.