National News

Bishops Oppose Death Penalty for Priest Killer

AUGUSTA, Ga. (CNS) – Saying “justice needs to be tamed by mercy,” Bishop Felipe J. Estevez of St. Augustine, Fla., and two brother bishops called for the state of Georgia to drop the death penalty in the case of accused priest killer Steven J. Murray.

“We have great respect for the legal system and we believe Murray deserves punishment for the brutal murder, but the sentence of death only perpetuates the cycle of violence,” Bishop Estevez said at a news conference. “It is unnecessary and denies the dignity of all persons.”

Bishop Estevez, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Savannah, along with priests, deacons and other supporters, gathered outside the Richmond County Courthouse in Augusta to issue their appeal.

Murray, 29, has admitted in interviews to killing Father Rene Robert, 71, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine, who befriended him as part of his prison ministry. He is charged with first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life or death.

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