The Timothy McVeigh Execution

April 18, 2001

April 19th, 2001

I am appalled by the events developing around the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Reports of people wanting to sell t-shirts and buttons conjure up images of executions in the Middle Ages and Roman times when these events were public entertainment. Such an atmosphere demeans our judicial system as it promotes frenzy and revenge. A public ritual of death can only coarsen our spirits and deaden our sensibilities, placing us in danger of becoming persons of death, rather than life. Though undoubtedly Timothy McVeigh committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our country, I fear that execution as spectacle can only poison the soul of our nation.

We can't fully know the pain of those so tragically affected by the Oklahoma City bombing, most particularly their families. I am concerned, however, that the provisions being made for them to witness the execution may only deepen the trauma they have already experienced, rather than help them recover from it.

Nothing is served by revenge. And here I note that the Episcopal Church, along with many other faith communities, is on record as being opposed to capital punishment.

I pray for Timothy McVeigh as he prepares to encounter the God who made him, even as I pray for his victims and their families. I invite all persons of faith to join me in these prayers as we seek with God's help to become instruments of God's peace and make our own the prayer of St. Francis: "Where there is hatred let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope; where there is sadness, joy…

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

Tagged in: Capital punishment