Yesterday Governor Jay Inslee imposed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in Washington State. I believe this took an amazing amount of courage on his part on an issue that has often been seen as untouchable. Our Episcopal Church, through its General Convention, has consistently called for such moratoria and indeed the end of the death penalty as a form of punishment in our country. The conviction this should end comes from the overwhelming call of our Savior to a peace and a way of life which is often in stark contrast to the most usual forms of resolution and justice in this world. Choosing that path is not an easy one. It comes with great sacrifice on behalf of many. None have made a greater sacrifice than those victims, and families of victims. I cannot know their pain, first at their loss, and then also in this decision. I must say unequivocally that our prayers should be deep and constant for all of them.
Calling for the end of the death penalty does not equate to the belief that punishment is not in order. This I strongly maintain and affirm. I know that this issue is a contentious one, in our country, and in our church. I know that all do not agree with what I write here, or perhaps with my interpretation of our faith’s call in this matter. Still, I thank our Governor for creating a moment and a window for a deeper conversation about the many issues that surround this act being a normal part of our common life. As I say that, I also pray for those who disagree, and for civil discourse on this important issue in the days ahead.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel
VIII Bishop of Olympia