Executions today also in USA
Earlier this week, Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore met and prayed with convicted murderer Wesley Eugene Baker on death row, using the dramatic visit to call on Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich to spare Baker's life.
While Baker remains on death row, Reuters reports that convicted killer Kenneth Boyd, 57, will die by lethal injection tonight at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina. His death will be the 1000th execution in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated three decades ago.
His execution has attracted worldwide attention not because of the nature of the crime, but because it will mark a symbolic milestone in the history of the death penalty.
Experts on the issue said state Gov. Mike Easley was unlikely to commute his sentence as happened in Virginia on Tuesday when a convict was spared becoming the 1000th execution thanks to a last minute decision by the governor.
Another prisoner, Shawn Paul Humphries, is also due to die today in South Carolina, also by lethal injection, for the killing of a convenience store owner in a robbery.
A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said the governor's legal team was not going to recommend clemency. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976 and 38 of the 50 American states and the federal government now permit capital punishment.
In the case of the Maryland prisoner Wesley Baker, Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Keeler, together with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington and Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Delaware, wrote a letter to the governor asking him to show mercy to Baker. Each of the three dioceses covers part of Maryland.
Speaking to reporters outside the Supermax prison in Baltimore moments after meeting with Baker, Cardinal Keeler said he and other bishops were compelled to plead for mercy because of the Catholic Church's respect for the sanctity of all human life.
"Our highest standard is the sacredness of human life and this is an instance in which we believe we can and should speak out in behalf of human life," the cardinal said.
Cardinal Keeler visits death-row convict, phones victim's family (Catholic News Service 30/11/05)
US set for 1,000th execution on Friday (Reuters 1/12/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Baltimore | Cardinal Keeler asks for Mercy | A Prayer for Mercy
A Culture of Life - US Bishops Statement on the Death Penalty (US Conference of Cathoilc Bishps 18/11/05 - PDF)
Community of Sant'Egidio - No to the Death Penalty
Sister Helen Prejean
US Bishops statement calls for rejection of death penalty (CathNews 17/11/05)
Cities light up monuments against death penalty (Reuters 1/12/05)
Catholic Bishops continue to call for end of Death penalty, in reaction to grace granted for 1000th Death penalty by Virginia Governor (Catholic News Agency 1/12/05)
2 Dec 2005