Statement from bishops urges compassion for Nguyen

Australia's Catholic Bishops have appealed to the Singaporean Government to grant clemency to convicted drug trafficker Van Nguyen.

CLICK HEREThe ABC reports that the Melbourne man is due to be executed in six days at Changi prison.

In a letter to Singapore's Prime Minister, the Bishops say they understand clemency can be granted in rare circumstances and that Nguyen's case fits this criteria.

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll, says Singapore should show compassion.

"The death sentence of a young man like this is heart-rending, I think," he said. "It's simply he's a young man, he had no crime record and there was a great chance of his rehabilitation."

Nguyen, 25, is on death row for trying to smuggle 400 grams of heroin from Cambodia to Australia in 2002.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Herald-Sun reports today that Fr Peter Norden, the priest at the Nguyen family's church, says Prime Minister John Howard could do more to oppose the death penalty.

After a service yesterday, Fr Norden said Mr Howard has failed to make a clear statement against capital punishment, suggesting he "might be a bit too concerned about Pauline Hanson followers" to do so.

"I would have liked to see a bit more dash for a prime minister representing the strong feeling of Australians.

"I don't think throughout this I've seen the Prime Minister make a clear statement about capital punishment.

"He's said he talked to the Singapore Government and he's done what he can, but has he said that he and most Australians oppose the execution of this young man? I think no."

Yesterday's Sunday Age reported that Nguyen is finding comfort in the words of Catholic martyr Sir Thomas More.

Nguyen Tuong Van embraced God, and the Catholic faith, when he was baptised last year on death row in Changi Prison. One of his closest friends has revealed that Nguyen's faith is so strong he recently reassured him that they would meet again after Friday's execution.

Bishops urge compassion for Nguyen (ABC Melbourne 26/11/05)
PM could do more, says priest (Herald-Sun 28/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
A letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 26/11/05)
Australia Unites
Parish of St Ignatius, Richmond
Nguyen seeks solace in martyr (The Age 27/11/05)

Rome group set to mobilise world against death penalty (CathNews 25/11/05)
Commission urges Catholics act on death penalty (CathNews 23/11/05)
Pell gives details on papal plea for Nguyen (CathNews 21/11/05)
Catholic Students unite to help death row Aussie (CathNews 18/11/05)
Catholics and Buddhists pray to cheat hangman (CathNews 7/11/05)
Centacare Melbourne urges Govt to save Nguyen (CathNews 28/10/05)
Papal intervention for death row drug trafficker (CathNews 25/10/05)

Australia's Catholic Church leaders ask Singapore to spare drug trafficker (Associated Press/China Post 27/11/05)
Friends refuse to give up faith (Herald-Sun 28/11/05)
World cities unite against death penalty (Independent Catholic News 25/11/05)
Australians to resent Nguyen hanging: PM (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 27/11/05)
'I am going to send you to a better place. God bless you' (Sydney Morning Herald 26/11/05)
Nguyen's dawn walk to the gallows (Sydney Morning Herald 27/11/05)
Supporters fight for Nguyen (The Weekend Australian 26/11/05)
Leaders call for minute of silence (The Australian 28/11/05)
Nguyen hangman sacked (Sunday Tasmanian/Sunday Telegraph 27/11/05)
Catholic support for death penalty grows in US (The Tablet 26/11/05)
Editorial: Capital punishment brutalises society (The Tablet 26/11/05)
9:30 am Service, Sunday 27th November (St Ignatius Church Richmond)

28 Nov 2005