Fr. Todd Molinari
Fr. Todd Molinari
SALEM — Father Todd Molinari is the first presenter in a six-part series on the Catholic perspective on the death penalty. Sessions are being held at St. Joseph Parish here, just blocks from the Oregon Capitol.

Gatherings are set for Thursdays, every-other week, starting Sept. 26. Each will start at 7 p.m. in the parish center.

Father Molinari, pastor here, will open the series with a lecture on recent Catholic teachings on the death penalty. Future sessions will cover reconciliation, wrongful convictions, alternatives to the death penalty and other related topics. Guest speakers will include experts on the adverse impacts of the death penalty and officials who have had to administer the death penalty in Oregon.
Future speakers include Tom O’Connor, former head of Religious Services for the Oregon Department of Corrections He will speak Oct. 10 on restorative justice and reconciliation. O’Connor is recognized as an international consultant to corrections officials in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Oct. 24 session will be on the “causes of violent crime and deterrence." The topic is expected to be of interest to law enforcement, corrections officers and people involved in crime victim assistance programs. Session leader will be Steve Gibbons, head of the Criminal Justice  Department at Western Oregon University.

The Nov. 7 session  will address the topics of wrongful convictions and the possible execution of innocent persons. Additional discussion will include the fairness of the death penalty system and racial bias that prevails in the current administration of the death penalty. Session leader will be Ron Steiner, chairman of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The Nov. 21 speaker and discussion leader will be Frank Thompson, former superintendent of the Oregon State Prison, which includes Oregon’s death row. The topics will include the government’s role in enforcing the death penalty and the impact upon those asked to participate in an execution. Thompson was in charge during the only two Oregon executions in the past 50 years.

The final session will be a wrap-up discussion of all topics related to the series. High school students, along with the general public, are invited to attend and participate in as many of the sessions as possible. Admission is free.

Those who attend all sessions will be able to join the discussion. Organizers, Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, have invited the general public as well as Catholic churches in the Salem area along with all of the churches of other denominations in the area.

For more information, contact members of the St. Joseph Peace and Justice Committee, through Mike or Mary Grainey [email protected]

Archbishop Alexander Sample joins religious leaders to oppose the death penalty during an Oct. 16 dinner at United Methodist Church in Portland. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception preceding dinner.