.- The death sentence imposed upon Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr., Sept. 22 “obscures for all of society the truth of the inherent dignity of human life,” said Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo.
“Responding to this senseless act of violence with another act of violence through imposition of the death penalty does not erase the hurt caused by the first act,” the bishop wrote in a statement over the weekend.
“Rather, it reinforces the false perspective of revenge as justice. In doing so, it diminishes respect for all human life, both the lives of the guilty and the innocent,” he continued.
Rodriguez was convicted of killing University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, Minn.
Although North Dakota does not have the death penalty, it is available in the federal system in which Rodriguez’s case was held.
Some legislators believe the case may revive the death penalty debate in the state, insisting that it could provide a necessary deterrent for future violent crimes of this sort. Lawmakers have not debated a death penalty bill since 1995, when the North Dakota Senate defeated the idea.
The bishop, however, argued that the death penalty continues, rather than thwarts, the cycle of violence in society. He also noted that the prison systems are secure and make the death penalty unnecessary.
“Violence only promotes violence and is not the way of Jesus Christ,” he said “Furthermore, society today is capable of protecting itself by sentences of life imprisonment without parole, allowing the person who has committed such a violent crime time for conversion and repentance for his action.”
The bishop also cited Pope Benedict XVI, who recently said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”
The bishop said he grieves for the family and friends of Rodriguez’s victim, Dru Sjodin, and for the family and friends of Rodriguez.
“We as a society, as Christians, as Americans, can serve victims of violence better by seeking ways to combat violence against life at its very source – by teaching and living the truth that all life is gift, all life is precious, and all life is to be protected,” he said.