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Murdered Florida Priest Appeals For Killer From Beyond The Grave

A Florida priest murdered in 2016 has appealed from beyond the grave for his alleged killer to be shown mercy, reports the BBC. In a letter written 22 years before his murder, Reverend Rene Robert requested that whoever took his life be spared execution "no matter how heinous their crime or how much I may have suffered."

The body of 71-year-old Fr. Robert, of St Augustine, Florida, was found riddled with bullets in Georgia in April 2016. Authorities say he was killed days earlier by a man, Steven Murray, whom he had been trying to help for months. Mr. Murray, a repeat offender, had asked the priest for a lift in Jacksonville, Florida, before abducting and murdering him, authorities said. At the time of the trial, the prosecutor was pushing for the death penalty.

But in 1995, the priest had signed a "Declaration of Life" document, which was witnessed and notarized by a lawyer. Fr. Robert wrote, "I request that the person found guilty of homicide for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances."

Fr. Robert devoted his life to helping society's most troubled people, including convicts and the mentally afflicted, say friends. "He was well aware for the potential violence that might involve his ministry, but he cared for those people nonetheless," said Archbishop Wilton Gregory. During a court appearance, Mr. Murray appealed for forgiveness by noting Fr. Robert's own words: "If anybody loves Father Rene, they'll forgive me because he was a man of God, and forgiveness is forgiveness."

Possible Preaching Angles: Easter; Cross of Christ; Forgiveness; Love for enemies; Irrespective of our view toward capital punishment we can see a definite parallel to the words of Jesus on the cross. Among his last words was a prayer for forgiveness for his murderers, the very ones he was trying to help.

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