Priest says Australia 'galvanised' against death penalty

Van Tuong Nguyen's case has galvanised Australia's opposition to capital punishment, Melbourne Jesuit anti-death penalty campaigner Fr Peter Norden said yesterday.

CLICK HEREThe Herald-Sun reports that the outspoken priest at the Nguyen family's inner-Melbourne Richmond church said he believes the issue would come to a head during next year's Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

"There are a significant number of Commonwealth countries that still retain the death penalty," Fr Norden said. "This has galvanised support against capital punishment and with the Commonwealth Games coming up ... I think it will become an issue of focus for the games."

Fr Norden also said while Prime Minister John Howard had voiced sympathy for Nguyen's family - particularly his mother Kim - he was yet to make a clear statement opposing the death penalty.

He said Mr Howard had not adequately raised Nguyen's case at last weekend's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

"If CHOGM won't make a move, then maybe the parliament of the street might take over," Fr Norden said, again referring to the March 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Nguyen and his twin brother, Khoa, attended the St Ignatius kindergarten and primary schools after the family migrated to Australia.

The 25-year-old Melbourne man is scheduled to be executed at dawn, Singapore time, on Friday after his conviction for smuggling heroin in the Commonwealth nation which has a hard-line policy on drugs.

Singapore has rejected repeated calls for clemency, which would allow Nguyen to serve a lengthy prison term rather than face execution.

Fr Norden said he still retains hope that Nguyen could be saved.

"We're working for a miracle," he said.

Bells at St Ignatius will peal at the moment Nguyen hands. The bellringer will ring a bell for each year of Nguyen's life at 9 am Melbourne time.

It will follow a prayer vigil by parishioners for the convicted drug smuggler.

Nguyen case 'galvanises' opposition (Herald-Sun/Australian Associated Press 28/11/05)
Bid for minute's pause for Nguyen (The Age 29/11/05)

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

Peter Norden SJ: Beneath the trapdoor (Jesuits Australia/Eureka Street 28/11/05)
Statement from bishops urges compassion for Nguyen (CathNews 28/11/05)
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)

Operation Van: The World says NO (World Youth Alliance | National Union of Students | Australian Catholic Students Association 28/11/05)
Andrew Hamilton SJ: The face of moral judgment (Jesuits Australia/Eureka Street 28/11/05)
Nguyen 'courageous' as time runs out (Sydney Morning Herald 29/11/05)
Cricket the go for pollies on execution day (The Age 29/11/05)
Call for silence at moment of Van's execution (The Australian 29/11/05)

29 Nov 2005