Anglican bishops oppose death penalty
Published: Sunday | November 23, 2008
The Most Rev Drexel Gomez, Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies. - File
Fourteen bishops of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies, meeting in the House of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee in Nassau, Bahamas, November 11-14, under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Drexel Gomez, have registered their opposition to the death penalty, while calling for intervention by government and cooperation of the Church as part of civil society, to deal with the situation which facilitates the upsurge of crime and violence in the Caribbean region.
In a communique dated November 14, the West Indian Bishops state that they are "of one mind in calling our people to stand with us in our opposition to the death penalty".
Rapid escalation in crime
It went on:
"Whereas throughout the Caribbean there has arisen in recent times a rapid escalation in criminal activity in which the great increase in the number of murders committed has become a major concern among the populace at large;
And whereas, understandably, the cry 'to hang the perpetrators high' has reached crescendo proportions;
And, mindful of our Blessed Lord's repudiation of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,';
And, that in our prayer, study, reflection and experience, the death penalty has not been proved to be a deterrent:
We, the bishops of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, meeting in Nassau in AD 2008, are of one mind in calling our people to stand with us in our opposition to the death penalty."
Reduction of inequalities
The bishops say they have resolved "to pursue a path of encouraging the governments of the region to seek through legislation and in their policies to effect the reduction of significant inequalities in the region, which is necessary for their fight against crime and violence."
They are proposing a series of long-term strategies and initiatives that, while ensuring the need to protect human rights, will also "provide response to the challenges in constructive ways at the level of the individual, the congregation and the diocese, to mitigate the conditions caused by social injustice and inequalities in the region, including the drug culture and escalating gang warfare, all of which have produced fear and a sense of impotence and hopelessness in our communities."
The bishops aver that they "recognise that these strategies and initiatives must also find their resource base in: ecumenical cooperation, inter-disciplinary participation of the courts, the police and the social services in all steps in the process." They recommend "the interaction of a three-point focus in any community outreach of church, home and school to include dispute resolution alternatives initiated in the parishes, dioceses and the province."
The bishops concluded: "We assure you of our prayers and support as we collaborate in confronting and working through these most challenging times in the life of the peoples of our region."
The participating bishops included the Lord bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt Rev Dr Alfred Reid, and the Suffragan Bishops of Mandeville (Rt Rev Dr Harold Daniel), Montego Bay (Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory) and Kingston (Rt Rev Dr Robert Thompson).