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Melbourne priest condemns McVeigh execution

Former Melbourne Pentridge Prison chaplain Fr Peter Norden has condemned last night's execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, describing it as a reflection of a society consumed by revenge.

Speaking at the weekend, Fr Norden said executing murderers is not a deterrent for would-be criminals but instead reflects society's vindictive nature.

"Whilst we recognise that the crime committed by Timothy McVeigh was a horrific crime, in order to uphold the value of human life, it seems rather inconsistent to take yet another human life," Father Norden told ABC radio.

His comments follow a similar condemnation by another former Pentridge chaplain, Fr John Brosnan, who said he could not see how modern society could uphold the value of human life by taking that of another.

Fr Brosnan, the priest who watched Ronald Ryan become the last man hanged in Australia in 1967, said Ryan had told him he was unsure whether it would be worse to hang or face 30 years in prison.

"Since many criminals would prefer to die than live in prison, capital punishment is more about extracting a pound of flesh than protecting society," Fr Brosnan said.

McVeigh, convicted of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people on 19 April, 1995, was scheduled to die by chemical injection at 10:00 pm AEST last night.