LIMA — The Catholic Church has long been known for its stance in defending the rights of unborn children.
However, a prayer vigil held Monday took a more controversial approach to the life/death issue.
The St. Gerard Catholic Church held a prayer service to end the death penalty. The Rev. Michael S. Sergi said the problem lies within everyone’s definition of judgment.
“All life is sacred and precious to God, no matter who they are,” Sergi said. “Justice is needed. However, death isn’t justice, it is revenge.”
Sergi said he wished that the church would have been filled to hear the message. With about 40 people in attendance, he said it still did not negate the impact that could be made.
“Jesus started with 12,” Sergi said, “and look what he did.”
Sergi recalled a time dealing with the death penalty himself when at a church in another state several years ago. A police officer at his parish was killed in the line of duty, and Sergi was called to help with the family during the grieving process. The killer was later captured and put on death row. Some of the family reveled in the capture and were eager to see “justice done.” Sergi was called by the wife several years later after the killer was put on death row.
“She was in the hospital, but she was doing fine,” Sergi said. “She had called me to say the date of execution had been finally set.”
The wife was receiving hate mail calling on her to do the right thing and try and have the execution stopped. She asked Sergi what she should do.
“I told her I understood the hurt and the anger,” Sergi said, “but that the state doesn’t have the right to take a life. It is against the law of God.”
Sergi said the woman knew he would answer that way, but that she had to hear it. Together, they prayed for her dead husband. She had since remarried. They then also prayed for the man on death row. He said that was the type of prayer needed to combat the issue.
“Tonight, we come with the powerful weapon of prayer,” Sergi said. “We have to call upon the government, upon all of the governors, and change their hearts from revenge. We need to love our enemies. We need to stop the killing.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @LanceMihm.