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US bishop urges president to commute 31 death sentences
    The President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza has written to President Clinton to request to commuting the sentences of all those now awaiting execution in federal prisons.
    The Bishop, who in November was a signatory to a letter asking the President to place a moratorium on federal executions, asked to commute the sentences "of all 31 people (civilians and military) awaiting executions in federal prisons."
    "These courageous acts-a moratorium or commutations--would demonstrate to the nation and the world that Americans are turning away from death and towards life by protecting even the lives of those who failed to demonstrate a similar respect for life," wrote Bishop Fiorenza.
    After 37 years without executions at the federal level, a first one is scheduled for tomorrow.
    "As you know," he continued, "for nearly thirty years the US Catholic bishops have been working to end the death penalty in the United States. We believe that we have other means to keep society safe from murderers--means that demonstrate a respect for life and ensure that innocent people will never be put to death. We do not believe that we can teach society that killing is wrong by killing those who kill others."