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Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 29, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Not only could the nearly two-hour execution of an Arizona inmate last week have been avoided, but the number of botched deaths by lethal injection is increasing in the U.S., says one observer.

“The problems that occurred in the execution of Joseph Wood on July 23 should have been foreseen and prevented,” Richard Dieter of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center told CNA July 25.

He said that the rate of failed executions is “greater than any other year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.”

“Over 1,000 lethal injections were conducted earlier with only comparatively minor problems,” Dieter noted. “It is the secrecy and experimentation with new drugs that is causing the increased number of botched executions.”

On July 23, Arizona prison authorities executed Joseph Rudolph Wood by lethal injection at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. The injection of lethal drugs took place at 1:52 p.m. after the man was strapped to a gurney. The inmate wheezed hundreds of times before he was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Doctors confirmed several times throughout Woods’ execution that he was sedated.

Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, said that Wood’s mouth opened thirteen minutes after the injection.

“Three minutes later it opened again, and his chest moved as if he had burped. Then two minutes again, and again, the mouth open wider and wider. Then it didn't stop,” Kiefer wrote.

“He gulped like a fish on land. The movement was like a piston: The mouth opened, the chest rose, the stomach convulsed.”

Witnesses could see, but not hear, the execution. However, when the doctor in the execution chamber confirmed through a microphone that Kiefer was still sedated, Kiefer reported hearing sounds from Wood: “a snoring, sucking, similar to when a swimming-pool filter starts taking in air, a louder noise than I can imitate.”

Wood’s lawyers left during the execution to file emergency legal motions to halt the execution.

Wood was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father Eugene Dietz in 1989. Witnesses of the execution included the murder victims’ relatives.

A priest was present at the execution. Before the execution, Wood told the victims’ relatives he was thankful for Jesus Christ as his savior, the Associated Press reports. At one point he smiled at them, an action that angered the family members.

Executions through lethal injection typically last 10 minutes when barbiturate drugs are used, the Arizona Republic said. Companies have begun to refuse to sell these drugs to correction departments following protests from death penalty opponents.

In response, states that still perform executions now use other drugs. Arizona is using the sedative drug midazolam in combination with the narcotic hydromorphone. The sedative was first used for executions less than a year ago.

Dieter said that the Arizona government had “ample warning” that midazolam might cause problems, noting the drug’s apparent connection to drawn-out executions by lethal injection in Ohio and Oklahoma.

“If the state had opened up its process to broader review, they might have heard from experts in anesthesiology and pharmacology who would have recommended changes to avoid the prolonged and inhumane way in which Wood was executed,” he said.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, blamed protests of drug manufacturers for forcing the state to turn to other drugs.

Dieter said that the sodium thiopental drug Arizona previously used was taken off the market due to objections from workers at the Italian plant that manufactured the drug for its supplier, Hospira.

“Subsequent drugs, such as pentobarbital, which Arizona also used, were taken out of circulation for executions because of the European human rights' stand against the death penalty,” he added. “To blame Europe for the botched executions seems strangely ironic. Should they have violated their conscience and helped facilitate executions? Arizona should have foreseen what happened and avoided it. They chose not to.”

In April, the Oklahoma execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett lasted 43 minutes. Lockett writhed and breathed heavily, eventually dying of a heart attack.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City on April 30 called for a reconsideration of the death penalty, saying “in general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures.”


Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2014 / 02:06 am (CNA).- A new movement seeking to unite the faithful and their pastors in the formation of thriving parishes has seen a wide scope of interest throughout the U.S. in the time since it was started little more than a year ago.

“The response has been great,” Pat Lencioni, one of the founders, told CNA.

The Amazing Parish movement seeks to give Catholic leaders, both clergy and lay, the resources and support they need to create strong, fruitful parishes.  

“For most Catholics, the parish is where they come to know Christ and the Church. If parishes aren’t vibrant and strong, it’s really tough for most Catholics to connect with their faith,” Lencioni said.
The movement will have its first conference Aug. 27-28 in Denver, but before the leaders had a chance to publically advertise, the 500 person capacity had already been reached simply by word of mouth.

“Praise God, the Holy Spirit just made something happen,” he said.

Pastors and their staff from some 115 parishes across the country will gather to hear talks and brainstorm with other parishes about what makes a parish great.

The foundation of the movement is the Amazing Parish website, which lays out a model of what makes up an amazing parish as well as related resources.

“It’s a simple website that says, ‘listen, all we want to do is make parishes amazing and help you make your parish amazing,’” Lencioni said.

He pointed out the importance of encouraging the laity to get more involved in their parishes to work alongside their pastors toward the same goal.

“The Church is everyone, and with great respect for the authority of a pastor of a parish and for his vocation and his dedication, we have to recognize that if we think he’s going to do it on his own, we’re putting him in a position of great struggle and suffering.”

“The laity have to step up.”

The website highlights seven traits, including a foundation of three main elements: reliance on prayer, teamwork, and a cohesive vision for the parish. The Sunday experience, compelling faith formation, small groups and evangelization make up the final traits of a strong parish, according to the movement.

After the three foundational elements comes the “Sunday experience”, which centers on Mass, and extends to anything from the greeters at the front door of the church to the priest’s homily.

Lencioni said the website has been “put together by a bunch of devout lay people who love the Church,” and is meant to be “a holistic model and set of resources that any parish can access and utilize for free.

Programs that are recommended on the website must be “faithful to Church teaching and excellent,” Lencioni said.

While many programs geared towards parish life are already available, they’re often disconnected from one another, he lamented.

The Amazing Parish website puts dozens of resources – from adult faith formation programs to sacramental preparation – in one place along with original content explaining how to implement them from speakers and authors such as Matthew Kelly, Chris Stefanick, and Jeff Cavins.


St. Martha
7/29/2014 12:00:00 AM
"Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (John 11:5).Saint Martha is mentioned in three Gospel passages: Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9, and the type of friendship between her and her siblings, Mary and Lazarus, with the Lord Jesus is evident in these passages.In the gospel of Luke, Martha receives Jesus into her home and worries herself with serving Him, a worry that her sister Mary, who sat beside the Lord's feet "listening to Him speak," doesn't share. Her complaint that her sister is not helping her serve draws a reply from the Lord who says to her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."The overanxiousness she displays in serving is put into the right context by Jesus who emphasizes the importance of contemplating Him before all things.Yet she is seen next in John, outside the tomb of her brother Lazarus who had died four days earlier, as the one who receives the Revelation from the Lord that "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."When asked by the Lord if she believed this she said to Him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world," displaying her great faith which is confirmed by Jesus' subsequent raising of her brother Lazarus from the grave.In the third and last instance, we see Martha, again in John, at a house in Bethany where Jesus was reclining at table with her brother Lazarus after he had raised him from the dead. During dinner, John's Gospel tells us, "Martha served." She is revealed here performing the same task as when we first saw her, but now her service is infused with her faith, and the brevity of the description suggests the silence and peace in which she serves as opposed to the nervous anxiety she displayed earlier.  Martha, whom we have seen serving, in Luke, and then believing, earlier in John, is now seen expressing her belief in the action of serving the Lord. "Martha served," and in doing so teaches us the way of Christian life.Saint Martha is the patron of housewives, servants, waiters and cooks.

First Reading - Jer 14: 17-22
7/29/2014 12:00:00 AM
17 And thou shalt speak this word to them: Let my eyes shed down tears night and day, and let them not cease, because the virgin daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction, with an exceeding grievous evil. 18 If I go forth into the fields, behold the slain with the sword: and if I enter into the city, behold them that are consumed with famine. The prophet also and the priest are gone into a land which they knew not. 19 Hast thou utterly cast away Juda, or hath thy soul abhorred Sion? why then hast thou struck us, so that there is no healing for us? we have looked for peace, and there is no good: and for the time of healing, and behold trouble. 20 We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, the iniquities of our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.21 Give us not to be a reproach, for thy name' s sake, and do not disgrace in us the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the graven things of the Gentiles that can send rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou the Lord our God, whom we have looked for? for thou hast made all these things. 

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