Video 3 of "Interview with Brother Richard Daly"
CRAFTS: We are here at St. Edward's University with Brother Richard Daly and I'm Lydia Crafts. I am doing the interview. Sabina Hinz-Foley is doing the
recording. So you consent to this interview?
RICHARD DALY: Yes.
CRAFTS: Okay. Wonderful. Okay so can you just start by telling us a little about your background, where you grew up?
RICHARD DALY: Well my name is Richard Daly. I grew up in Chicago, believe it or not. Grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles. I moved to Los Angeles when I was in
high school. Finished high school out there, joined the Holy Cross Brothers and studied briefly in Wisconsin and then here at St. Edward's.
RICHARD DALY: And after graduating from St. Ed's, I taught high school for about a dozen years and in the meantime got a Master's degree in history,
undergraduate was history and English. I taught in Florida at Archbishop Curley High School in Miami, Florida where I also coached track.
RICHARD DALY: And then I went to Wichita Falls, Texas, and taught in the school, ended up being the principal there the last six years I was there. And then
came back to St. Ed's and worked in advancement for a brief time and then went to work for the Texas Catholic Conference for Father John McCarthy who was then the executive director.
RICHARD DALY: That was in seventy-four, nineteen seventy-four, and I was there until three years ago. And it was in the context of working for the state
Catholic Conference that I first got involved with the death penalty issues, abolition and all the rest of the issues associated with it.
RICHARD DALY: I might say that, I meant to say this the other night at the panel; it was because of a couple named Charles and Pauline Sullivan that Father
McCarthy and I got involved in the abolition movement. And anybody who has been around the death penalty movement in Texas for twenty-five or thirty years would know Charlie and Pauline
RICHARD DALY: They founded an organization called CURE, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants and they started it here in Texas, they went to
Washington, they still live in Washington and now they've gone international. And so they, like I said, anybody who has been around the death penalty abolition movement would know Charlie and
RICHARD DALY: They are legendary people, incredible people, are great role models for anybody who is wanting to work in areas around Catholic social teaching
and what makes them most remarkable is that they live kind of an evangelical, poverty lifestyle voluntarily.
RICHARD DALY: So anyway they're great people and that's how I got involved and they convinced us, Father McCarthy and me, that the Texas Catholic Conference
in nineteen seventy-four, seventy-five, really ought to be involved in this abolition movement.
CRAFTS: What were your thoughts on the death penalty before you met them and could you talk also a little bit about how you met them and how you got involved
and just more about that experience.
RICHARD DALY: Well, Charlie's an ex-priest and Pauline is a former nun so they gravitated towards the Catholic Conference. They came to us; they came to
Father McCarthy. They knew that Father McCarthy -- who is a person, a unique individual in his own right, he's now Bishop McCarthy, he left the conference and became a bishop and he ended up
being the bishop of Austin until about ten years ago. He's retired.
RICHARD DALY: They knew that he was a progressive individual, that he had worked in Washington at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops mainly in
other issues, but they knew that he would be sympathetic to their efforts.
RICHARD DALY: In nineteen seventy-four, this is when not many people were thinking about the death penalty, and in those early years those of us who did talk
to legislators about it did it sometimes with some fear and trepidation because there weren't many abolitionists around at that time.
RICHARD DALY: So anyway, there was a Catholic connection. Charlie and Pauline are both former religious and good Catholics and just knew that the Catholic
Church would be sympathetic to them, at least the Conference would be.[ . . . withheld] and We [the Texas Catholic Conference] took the first position against the death penalty in nineteen
seventy-nine but it was a few months after he [Archbishop Francis James Furey] had passed away.
RICHARD DALY: When we did pass that resolution among the bishops, at that time there were eleven dioceses and one of the eleven, what we call diocesan
bishops, the head bishop in the diocese not the auxiliary or anybody else, he was opposed to it, he was opposed to our taking a position against the death penalty.
RICHARD DALY: But the other ten were strongly in favor of it. This was in the context of a pastoral letter the bishops of Texas wrote in
nineteen-seventy-nine on the whole criminal justice system called "When did we see you in prison?" and I think I might be able to rescue a copy of that, I don't know my files are a little bit
RICHARD DALY: -- since, over the last few years. So we had to tweak that statement and so we put in the statement, we said the bishops of Texas, some
language that said the bishops of Texas are against the death penalty, but we tweaked it to say something like,
RICHARD DALY: "The bishops of Texas are against the death penalty at this time," and that was the compromise we reached with this one bishop who otherwise
would not have gone along with the statement, and the bishops never issue a pastoral statement unless they are unanimous on it.
RICHARD DALY: So that was in nineteen seventy-nine. It was about the same time -- that was just before the American Bishops, the whole body of bishops in the
United States came out with a statement against the death penalty and Texas had a role in that.
RICHARD DALY: The bishops, the American, it was then called the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops, it ‘s now called the National Conference for
Catholic Bishops, they were, their staff was working on a death penalty statement and they were unable to get, to arrange a visit to a Death Row in the United States, and by this time
Father McCarthy had become Bishop McCarthy and was in Houston, and the people in the national office in Washington called him and asked him if he thought it would be possible to get a
delegation of bishops and National Bishops Conference staff to visit the Death Row in Texas, which was in the Ellis Unit. I think it's still there in the Ellis Unit, but it may have moved,
but the Ellis Unit is where we went. So he called me and asked me if I thought we could do that and said, Well I don't know, but I do know the director of T.D.C. at the time, Texas Department
of Corrections, a man named Jim Estelle.
RICHARD DALY: And Estelle, I had met Jim Estelle through Charlie and Pauline Sullivan at a hearing on some issue related to the death penalty or criminal
justice system, because CURE was involved in other issues besides the death penalty. So I put in a call to Mr. Estelle, left a message and fortunately was in my office kind of late in the
evening, early evening, and the phone rang and it was Jim Estelle.
RICHARD DALY: And he, I told him who I was and reminded him that we had met and told him what we wanted and he said he thought that he could arrange that.
And so he gave me the name of one of his staffers to work with and so we ended up, on June sixteenth, nineteen seventy -- nineteen eighty I guess it was by then.
RICHARD DALY: I can remember the date because it was my birthday. We met in Houston, a group of bishops from the around the country and a group of staff, the
people who were writing the documents, and we had a little briefing before going up the next morning to the unit and spent the day in the unit, in the Ellis Unit and visited, two of us and
one of them, individuals, condemned individuals, and visited the place where they live in the terrible noisy wing where all the, at the time there were only -- I don't know -- thirty or forty
people on Death Row.
RICHARD DALY: And then we ended the day interestingly in the dayroom with a prayer service, with the as many of the men that the unit, the prison people
thought could, should be there. And so we had a very moving event, but the most moving part of the day for me was getting out of there.
RICHARD DALY: I mean it was, it was, it's not a place you want to spend a lot of time. And I, at the time I had a lot of thoughts about actually visiting the
Death Row and talking, and over the years then seeing the names of people that we had visited with come up as, their time had come and the executions were taken on, taken, I tried to talk to
Reverend Pickett about a couple of them but we both couldn't remember all the names. So, but I'm sure he accompanied just about every one of those men.
CRAFTS: So could you talk a little bit more about that day and your interactions with the --
RICHARD DALY: Yeah one thing is that when we were talking -- Bishop McCarthy and I were talking to one prisoner, across the glass and so on, and we noticed
that the chaplain kept walking back and forth behind all of us outsiders, and we felt very uncomfortable about that. It wasn't Reverend Pickett, but the chaplain kept walking back and
RICHARD DALY: I was struck by the noise in the place. It was June so it was hot and of course East Texas it was humid and it was very uncomfortable. I was
struck by the noise, steel, and concrete is all you hear. I'll never forget walking in there and the, and the metal door closing behind us because we were locked in just like everybody
RICHARD DALY: I remember walking the hallways and of course the incarcerated had to walk on the other side of a line. We could walk right down the middle of
the corridor of course, but they all had to walk, it was like a, I don't know, two foot space, but they had to walk next to the wall all the time and in one direction each way down the
RICHARD DALY: Having been a high school teacher and having done something that my school board wasn't real happy with when I was up in north Texas I agreed
with the juvenile probation office in Wichita County that if they had status offenders in danger of going to the juvenile, the T.Y.C. facility, and they were status offenders -- they were
not, they hadn't done any major criminal, if they, what they did if they were adults they wouldn't be in trouble -- but they were runaways and truants and all that. And he had a couple of boys
that if they didn't straighten out they were going to have to be put in the Texas Youth Commission, then called the Texas Youth Council facility.
RICHARD DALY: So I agreed to let those boys, one at a time come to our school, and see if they could, it was a Catholic school, and if we could help them
out, and unfortunately none of them worked out. But as I walked through that facility and looked at the people who were in this Texas Department of Corrections unit, some of who were on Death
Row, I kind of saw the same faces.
RICHARD DALY: They were kind of lost individuals. The kids we were trying to help in Wichita County were, truants, runaways but you could tell they were,
they weren't, they had no significant home lives. But I was just struck by seeing the same genre of people, now adults, and, compared to the sixteen years olds that I tried to help in Wichita
County. Like I say it wasn't a real popular program with the parents.
CRAFTS: Can you talk about that?
RICHARD DALY: Well, it's just that here you have this nice little private Catholic school and we only, I never took more than one boy at a time and it was
very small, it wasn't a big deal. There were some parents who didn't think that we should be having their children associating with these children.
RICHARD DALY: But it was not successful, and I left shortly. I was only there six months or so after that. And the other thing I remember was the relief of
getting out, walking out of there. The beautiful, it set, the Ellis Unit is set, I don't know what it's like now, but it was set in beautiful pastoral countryside and we drove through these
wonderful fields and then all of a sudden this facility looms up, you know, and the walls and the barbed wire. And we went in and had this terrible time just, it was just oppressive being
in there. But then coming out and being free again, it was -- anyway I recommend it as a one-time experience.
CRAFTS: Did that experience affect your views in any way?
RICHARD DALY: Yes. I think I was already pretty converted. I don't ever remember being pro-death penalty. I just, what I would recall it wasn't an issue that
was on my mind, until I got indoctrinated by Charlie and Pauline Sullivan and others. I guess when I saw who the people that were on Death Row, they were not, they were -- I'm firmly
convinced that we don't catch the smart criminals. We catch the criminals who make a lot of mistakes and these were not really clever, bright people, the ones at least, the ones that I met that
day and that was a very limited experience, one day on Death Row.
RICHARD DALY: But I thought that these people need more help than they need incarceration or execution. And that's -- but like I said I didn't really think
much about it before --
RICHARD DALY: I got indoctrinated by the Sullivans,
RICHARD DALY: —and others.
CRAFTS: So did you have any other opportunities to visit prisons while at the conference or any other --
RICHARD DALY: Let's see. I don't think so. I had a lot of dealings with --we would get things like, county jails especially were not permitting religious to
go in and teach, to minister.
RICHARD DALY: So we spent, I didn't visit a lot of them but we spent a lot of time trying to convince whoever was in charge of the unit, and typically it was
a county jail, that it was okay to let a minister go in there and it was even okay to let a Catholic priest go in and celebrate Mass, even though that means bringing a small amount of wine, the
very stringent --
RICHARD DALY: I did visit the Hutto Unit recently in conjunction with Catholic Charities of this diocese, but that's the only other unit I've ever been in.
We did get legislation, by the way, enacted to change the law in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice permitting a small amount of real wine to be brought into a unit for Roman Catholic
Mass. You can't have Roman Catholic Mass with grape juice; you have to have wine. And so we did get that changed and that was very helpful when dealing with city and county jails. We could
point to the T.D.C. and say they permit it there's no reason you can't permit this small amount of wine.
CRAFTS: Right. Right.
RICHARD DALY: For the Mass. But no those are the only, those two, those were the only times I visited. Probably should have. Worked a lot with, at the
conference we had a very strong organization of people who do jail and prison ministry around the state and I would meet with them as the executive director once or twice a year and listening
to their stories about the people they were working with, men and women, gave me a lot of insights into the criminal -- I think it's one of the most selfless ministries in the Catholic
Church, people who do jail and prison ministry, including for juveniles. It's tough, it's a tough ministry, and I have great admiration for those men and women who do that. And like I said
they're basically all over the state. It's a strong, it was a strong part of the Texas Catholic Conference. Like I said I've been gone for three years I don't know what, too much about
what's going on now.
CRAFTS: Can you talk a little bit about that, the priests that you deal with who --
RICHARD DALY: They weren't priests necessarily. There were a couple of priests but they were mainly like deacons and women religious and lay men and lay
women, just totally committed, one person at a time. Sometimes those of us who are like school teachers, I am teaching here at St. Edward's now, we think in terms of dealing with a class of
twenty or thirty people, dealing with -- But they take time to deal with one individual, with that individual's unique issues. So that's one thing that I came to appreciate is how these
people -- and these are not, sometimes these are not attractive people, people that you want -- they didn't get there because they sang in the choir. Sometimes they're manipulative.
RICHARD DALY: But the concern that these men and women ministers had to the people they were trying to minster to was really inspiring. And the success rate
is not high. Preventing recidivism ministering to people so that they will not be a recidivist statistic, it's not a real good batting average. But they still stay with it and for years.
CRAFTS: Right. So you became the executive director in nineteen seventy-nine? Is that right?
RICHARD DALY: Yes, Yeah.
CRAFTS: And that was about the time when Texas started executing people again.
RICHARD DALY: Yeah I guess that's right yeah.
CRAFTS: So I know you said that there were ten bishops who were wanting to abolish the death penalty. What about in terms of the Catholic community at that
time and sort of that sentiment towards the death penalty?
RICHARD DALY: I think that the Catholic community was certainly pro-death penalty at that time. That bishop ended up retiring fairly quickly and so the
bishops, by the time the American bishops took their position, I think it was eighty or eight-one, the Texas bishops were all on board. In fact Archbishop Fiorenza of Houston has been a very,
very -- he's retired now, but he's been a very strong opponent of the death penalty and I think he and Sister Helen Prejean have done a little road show together going around and giving talks.
Archbishops Joseph Fiorenza is a retired Archbishop of Houston, Galveston, Houston.
RICHARD DALY: His replacement was a Cardinal, there's a cardinal in Texas now Cardinal DiNardo. But by the time the American bishops took their position the
Catholic Bishops of Texas were all on board.
RICHARD DALY: People, Catholic people I think, have generally reflected, up until recently I'm seeing a little trend, at least when I was still paying
attention to the numbers, that Catholics were becoming more anti-death penalty than the general population, it seems to me in the last few years I was involved and with the conference I'm still
involved with the death penalty.
RICHARD DALY: But I think that the bishop's position has -- people don't always pay attention to all the positions of the bishops but this one they -- it
seems to be having an effect. And of course there was a very interesting thing, the Catholic Church historically has been pro death penalty. Think the Inquisition. How did we deal with
heretics in the twelfth and thirteenth -- we burned them. And the Crusades -- so the church has always, was never against the death penalty because the teaching was that to protect society
there are some people that have to be eliminated.
RICHARD DALY: Well of course we have this big thick document called the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has all of the doctrinal positions of the
church and Pope John Paul the second revised parts of that in nineteen ninety-two and that's where they had this change saying the death penalty is never necessary.
RICHARD DALY: I forget the exact language, I've got it down in my office but they changed the position that sometimes you have to -- they said that the
church, that society still has a right to protect the common good to take the life of a person who is a danger to the common good. But the Bishops, the Pope, in the Catechism in nineteen
ninety-two said that never is necessary.
RICHARD DALY: It just -- we don't have to do that because we have very secure prisons and we have good ways of protecting the people at large from these
people who do heinous crimes. So that was fairly recently in nineteen ninety-two and that was John Paul the second who was Pope for twenty-seven years.
RICHARD DALY: So that's -- that was a major change. That was kind of a watershed event in the church's view. I mean the church just says there's never a time
when you need to have the death penalty. And of course in Texas when we were able to get life without parole passed, that has caused a significant decline in the number of attorneys
seeking the death penalty, district attorneys, county attorneys seeking the death penalty.
RICHARD DALY: You know the numbers better than I do but I think there's been a significant decline in the number of attorneys, district attorneys seeking the
death penalty in capital cases. It was interesting I think it was the session, the legislative session in 2001 where there was a lot of activity around the death penalty.
RICHARD DALY: I think that's when we passed life without parole if I'm not mistaken but I can't -- dates -- but we had lots of activity in those years about
not executing the mentally retarded, not executing people who were juveniles at the time of the crime and I always felt as though it was the presidential election of two thousand where it
became so clear that as governor, Governor Bush had presided over so many executions including Carla Faye Tucker, one of the most greatest travesties in my opinion -- in the whole saga. I think
that the people for a slight bit, there were some people that were a little bit embarrassed about the reputation of Texas as the most "killing state" in the nation.
RICHARD DALY: I know when I was the director of the conference and I would meet with my colleagues from other states it was difficult to try to answer them,
answer people from places like Massachusetts and Delaware, even California and New York. Why do Texans execute so many people? It was --
RICHARD DALY: I would just say well it's a wonderful state, I love it but it's not a good place to live if you're poor or if you're convicted of a capital
offense. It's just not--we have some—I think this came up at the panel the other night. Why is there such a mentality in Texas about the death penalty, pro death penalty?
RICHARD DALY: I made a comment that somebody disagreed with, I said I thought it had something to do with the frontier mentality that we still have. I tell
my students in political science that we don't do very well in providing health and human services in Texas because we're a "bootstrap" state.
RICHARD DALY: Our grandparents and great grandparents—if we're natives, I'm not—pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. They didn't need any help from
anyone else. So that was kind of like the way you did it on the frontier. But some people, somebody in the audience disagreed with me on that so I would defer to them. It's not because we're
RICHARD DALY: I do think that there are some—well it's clear that most of the people on Death Row and most of the people who have been executed have come
from two counties in Texas: Dallas and Harris. And who is in the office of district attorney in those jurisdictions makes a difference.
RICHARD DALY: And there were people in those offices that were very pro-death penalty seek the death penalty on many occasions. I think we cannot discount
the issue of racism in the death penalty environment. I think it's a sin that we still have in our society. And it is a sin.
RICHARD DALY: Going back to the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you look at the definition of sin in that document I think you can apply it to racism.
And that's a big topic we don't want to get into. Anyway I don't know where, I'm wondering off here but I think that we did have a flurry of activity around the death penalty issue because of
the spotlight that was shown on Texas when Governor Bush was running for president successfully.
CRAFTS: So you said that when you went to other states people they would ask you why. Did you ever feel any pressure being in Texas from those—
RICHARD DALY: No. I'm one of those Texans that wasn't born here but got here as quick as I could. I just love—I think this is a great state. But that is one
thing that is bothersome. Yeah I would—no, I would try to explain that we're not all— there is a significant abolitionist movement in Texas.
RICHARD DALY: And we've made some progress, in the later years; we've made some progress. The adequate defense fund—the Catholic Conference. The bishops were
very involved in Senator Ellis' initiative what -- three or four sessions ago now -- to set up the adequate defense fund to make there's money available for adequate defense for indigent
accused people in the case of a capital crime.
RICHARD DALY: It's always, I don't know what the status of the fund is now, but when I was involved it was always difficult to get enough money in the fund,
like everything else in Texas. But we made some progress. And I think if for no other reason that it's terribly expensive to have the death penalty.
RICHARD DALY: I mean when you start talking to people who have never given any thought to it and you explain what it cost to actually come to an execution as
opposed to life without parole they're astounded. But I also think that it's public policy that puts some people in situations they probably would prefer not to be in, even some governors, for
RICHARD DALY: Many times the, we would try to get the Board of Pardons and Paroles to look at a case and delay it or go to the Governor's office to try and
get—I didn't do that a lot in the last few years I was at the Conference and I don't know why.
RICHARD DALY: There were a number of occasions—eight or ten or a dozen or so—where the bishop of the jurisdiction where the crime took place would make an
appeal to the Governors office to delay the execution, to give a stay or whatever.
CRAFTS: Can you talk about what some of those cases where?
RICHARD DALY: Well the one that—I can't remember. I can remember one very specifically. It was up in— It came out of Amarillo. This is the case where there
was a kid who broke into the convent up there.
RICHARD DALY: And I'm very familiar with this whole environment because when I was in Wichita Falls, that Catholic high school in Amarillo was a school that
we competed against a lot.
RICHARD DALY: And the bishop of Amarillo, when I first met him he was the principle of the high school, Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, who's kind of a famous guy
from the nuclear Pantex plant and all that. He's also retired now. But this kid broke into the convent and raped and killed an elderly nun. I forget the boy's name.
HINZ-FOLEY: Johnny Frank Garrett?
RICHARD DALY: That sounds right. And Bishop Matthiesen knew this kid. Kid lived in the neighborhood. Knew that the kid had often slept under the bleachers on
the football field. Knew the whole story. And I can't remember all of the details. The kid was obviously a very disturbed child. He was coming up for execution and became an adult.
RICHARD DALY: And the sisters of the convent were unanimous in asking for clemency. And I think Bishop Matthiesen himself, by this time, he was the bishop,
and I think he himself appeared before the Board of Pardon and Paroles to plead the case. And there was some funny business about the district attorney up there misrepresenting the views of the
nuns and one woman who was an ex-nun.
RICHARD DALY: This is all – what? twenty years ago, thirty years ago maybe twenty-five years—. But anyway that's one that was very—e everybody involved in
the case, the nuns in the convent, the bishop who had been the principal of the high school, but we didn't get anywhere on that.
RICHARD DALY: The Karla Faye Tucker thing is another one I didn't—I talked to many people who knew a lot about that situation and how Karla Faye Tucker had
become a role model to the women in the unit and that in fact was functioning, as far as near I could tell, pretty much as a chaplain.
RICHARD DALY: From what I was told by people that knew her personally and I'm blanking on who it was I talked to, but they said that she was just, yeah she
was a jailhouse conversion, but she was the real thing. She was doing more, a tremendous amount of good with the women in that unit.
RICHARD DALY: Where was that –Gainesville? I think where she was. Those are two I can't—another case, one of the most difficult—I remember appearing at a
press conference with Napoleon Beazley's parents. Young man --you know the story--up in East Texas. Tyler I think. Honor student, star football player, was high on something and—
RICHARD DALY: What they were stealing a car and killed somebody in the process and it happened to be the relative of a federal judge or something.
HINZ-FOLEY: The father.
RICHARD DALY: Yeah. Well I remember appearing at that press conference and Napoleon's father was able to speak but his mother was there but she couldn't
speak. And I don't know what I did, I don't remember if I spoke or not. But I just remember I was, it was a very emotional experience to be there.
CRAFTS: Can you talk about it?
RICHARD DALY: Well, it's a long time. It was a number of years ago. It's just that this was such a good family. This was such a good man and if the son was
anything like the father, we were making a terrible mistake here.
RICHARD DALY: I just remember if I would have had to say anything more I probably couldn't have. And I'm not a terribly emotional person. But that was just—and she's sitting there—I just remember I think she was sitting down and she couldn't even say a word. She couldn't even stand up with her husband in the setting. And of course he was
RICHARD DALY: Going back to the time, the visit to the Ellis Unit. One of the inmates that I remember visiting with was a--and if Charlie Sullivan were
here he could tell us who, what his name was -- because this kid was, this young man was an artist. He drew cartoons and I think he's one of these artists that was able to sell his work.
RICHARD DALY: And that's been an issue, as you know. Should these incarcerated criminals be able to sell their wares outside the units and so on? It seems to
me his name was Billy something, Billy. And I remember visiting him; he showed us some of his work. I think he corresponded regularly with Charlie and Pauline and I think I saw many of the
examples of his work.
RICHARD DALY: He definitely maintained that he was innocent. And it was something to do with—he was stopped by a highway patrolman, and maybe he killed the
highway patrolman or something, I can't remember. But this was a real human being that I've thought about a lot obviously over the thirty years or so.There was another case, well, that's--there was another case—
CRAFTS: No, please go ahead.
RICHARD DALY: Yeah there was another case I remember and somehow I got involved with this guy's sister. And I think it took place in Houston and he was
arrested probably on—he was stopped and he was stripped searched like on the hood of his car, in front of his sister and his wife I think, and he went into a rage and overcame the officers
and killed one of them I guess. But it was all about this dehumanization.
RICHARD DALY: Kind of reminds you of— when I saw Abu Ghraib I was reminded of it. There are some, some—everybody has human dignity. You don't do that. It's
not— that was an inappropriate action taken by the law enforcement officials at the time.
RICHARD DALY: And he was a hot-tempered, extremely strong individual and that was what caused him to be, to commit a capital crime and ultimately be
executed. Now like I say somehow I, his sister got, I got connected to here maybe through one of the organizations -- I don't know.
CRAFTS: So can you talk about your role as the executive director of the conference in terms of all of these cases? You said you spoke at the Napoleon
Beazley -- in what—? How were you involved?
RICHARD DALY: Well, the Texas Catholic Conference is the association of the now fifteen dioceses -- thirteen dioceses and two archdioceses of Texas, and the
board of directors are the bishops. And what the conference does is facilitate anything they want to do together, and one of those things is being involved in public policy.
RICHARD DALY: So, and it wasn't just criminal justice. It was across the board. So if—I over the years was involved in dozens, maybe hundreds of press
conferences, on anything from raising the welfare ceiling to enacting the CHIP legislation, or getting the CHIP legislation at two hundred percent of poverty instead of one hundred percent of
poverty and all that.
RICHARD DALY: So over the years other advocacy groups like to have the bishops present. And the bishops like—I thought it was good also. So a number of— I
can remember the Napoleon Beazley press conference vividly. I'm sure there were others when we were getting life without parole and not executing the mentally retarded.
RICHARD DALY: I'm sure there were other press conferences around individuals who were being executed; I just don't remember what they were. But the executive
director appearing at the press conference with other advocacy groups on issues is a fairly common exercise for whoever is in the position.
RICHARD DALY: The person who's in the position now his name is Andrew Rivas, Andy Rivas .CRAFTS: Right. Do you want to talk about some of the other issues you
just mentioned, spoke about them briefly but some of the other issues—.
RICHARD DALY: Well.
CRAFTS: —you were dealing with and you focused a lot on.
RICHARD DALY: Yeah, going way back Texas used to have a welfare ceiling, a constitutionally mandated welfare ceiling. And a group of advocates got together—we used to have a little group called PILF, Public Interest Lobby Forum, all the do-gooders. So we were all working on that and when it came time to appear before the—
RICHARD DALY: And it was successful. The welfare—we passed a constitutional amendment eliminating the welfare ceiling and instead tying it to percentage of
the total state budget, which made it go much higher than it could ever have been with the ceiling.
RICHARD DALY: Here's an anecdote. When we got ready to go before the —. At the time my recollection is in the House, there was a constitutional amendments
RICHARD DALY: And my recollection is that Bob McFarland -- who later became a senator from Fort Worth who happened to be a Catholic, now I've seen down there
as a lobbyist -- he was chair of the committee and we decided we would have three witnesses.
RICHARD DALY: We had a group of twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five organizations, but we decided that we would just send three people up to testify. Sometimes
lengthy testimony is your worst enemy. I can't remember who the third person was but it was me representing the bishops and Peggy Romberg representing Planned Parenthood.
RICHARD DALY: And I remember Representative McFarland saying, If you can hold this coalition together you can probably pass just about anything. The Catholic
Conference and Planned Parenthood.
RICHARD DALY: But, ooh boy. The bishops' agenda was some institutional concerns of the Roman Catholic Church, schools, hospitals, Catholic Charities agencies
and then kind of the broad general social agenda of the Church, what we call the Catholic social teaching.
RICHARD DALY: Care for God's creation, some environmental issues, the dignity of every human being from conception to natural death, so a lot of activity
around those issues. Worked closely with the Catholic health care providers on issues that were of concern to them. A lot of work in conjunction with the Catholic Charities agencies of the
state on their attempts to get help from the state to do some of their direct services, run-away programs.
RICHARD DALY: I should have studied up on my primer. In a given session we should track sixty to a hundred bills or resolutions and really be totally involved
in maybe fifteen or twenty of them, and usually in collaboration with other advocacy groups. There were a couple of initiatives that we took on our own that was—
RICHARD DALY: For a long time we tried to get a bill pass to let the state loan textbooks to kids in private schools. That's kind of, kind of went away, we
did that for about ten years. We did get some legislation clarifying the role of the state in regulating convents where retired nuns live.
RICHARD DALY: In other words, this is a family setting; this isn't an institutional setting we got—I've already mentioned the bill to permit priests to
bring a small amount of wine into the prison units to say Mass. Helped putting some amendments on some bills over the years.
RICHARD DALY: Some agri -- In the early days a lot of time was spent advocating for the farm workers in Texas in the seventies and early eighties. Never got
the big bill we wanted, which was an agricultural labor relations board to oversee the agricultural and labor situation like they have in California.
RICHARD DALY: But there were some successes in pesticide regulation in the fields when people are working, fresh water, toilet facilities, especially when
women were involved working the fields, which is a lot of women. Eliminating, what I tell my students, el cortito, the short handled hoe.
RICHARD DALY: The growers would prefer that the workers have a hoe about two or three feet so that they could really get down there and see the weeds. And of
course it does tremendous damage to people's backs and necks and so on. So we got that. It was a small; it doesn't seem like much but, eliminating, making illegal a short hoe. It took a long
time to do that. So the farm workers—
RICHARD DALY: There I worked a lot with the Charlie and Pauline Sullivan of that category was Jim and Rebecca Harrington, they're since divorced, but Rebecca
Flores, Rebecca Flores Harrington was the head of the United Farm Workers and Jim Harrington, now the head of the Texas—
CRAFTS: Civil Rights—
RICHARD DALY: —Civil Rights Project, well, he was with the Civil Liberties Union at the time. They got me involved in —as soon as I found out what the
issues were it was a no brainer really.
CRAFTS: Which bishops—? Who were the bishops who were particularly interested in the Catholic social teaching?
RICHARD DALY: Well, there is an evolving new generation of bishops in Texas now. There's only, well two more that I worked with for all those years and
retiring this year .But certainly Bishop McCarthy. Bishop McCarthy last year got an award—a national award—called the Harry Fagan Award.
RICHARD DALY: It is the most prestigious award to a Catholic social activist in the church. Bishop McCarthy has a very interesting background. From the time
he was ordained as a priest in nineteen-fifty-seven up to right now, even now, he's in retirement he has been involved in many of the major civil rights social action events in the history of
the American church, and I was privileged to worked directly for him for five years as his assistant, and then with him as a Bishop for twenty-five years.
RICHARD DALY: But Bishop McCarthy.Bishop, Archbishop Fiorenza in Houston, a bishop that's now, dece -- and I'm going to forget somebody—[TAPE ONE ENDS]
Brother Richard Daly went to work for the Texas Catholic Conference, the legislative advocacy group representing Catholic bishops, in 1974. In Video 1, Brother Daly talks about his work against the death penalty and for prison reform, work largely inspired by Pauline and Charlie Sullivan who founded Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE). By the end of the 1970s, the Catholic bishops of Texas came out against the death penalty and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the National Conference of Bishops) publized a statement against the death penalty shortly thereafter. Brother Daly also describes his visits to Death Row, prison ministries, Father, and later Bishop, McCarthy, and the legislative positions of the Texas Catholic Conference. In Video 2, Brother Daly describes the organizing and activism by the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Texas Farm Workers Union (TFWU), César Chávez, and human rights-oriented priests and bishops, most especially that of late Archbishop Patricio Flores of San Antonio. In Video 3, Brother Daly returns to a discussion about the death penalty; shares his admiration for the late Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago Joseph Bernadin; and discusses contradictions with the Catholic Church, including the Church's relationship to a variety of social justice issues. This interview took place on May 1, 2009 at St. Edward's University in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
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Richard DalyRole: Narrator
Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
Lydia CraftsRole: Interviewer
Sabina Hinz-FoleyRole: Videographer
Emmanuel TomesRole: Transcriber
Virginia Marie RaymondRole: Transcriber
Virginia Marie RaymondRole: Proofreader
Maurice ChammahRole: Proofreader
Type of Resource:
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