Pell says abolishing death penalty won't be easy

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney has said that while the Church opposes capital punishment, it will be an uphill battle to persuade political leaders in the South East Asia to change their laws.

CLICK HEREOn Friday, 25-year-old Australian drug smuggler Van Nguyen was executed in Singapore. The ABC reported yesterday that Prime Minister John Howard said he was pessimistic about Australia's ability to convince its neighbours to end the death penalty.

Cardinal Pell said that sensitivity is needed in pursuing such an aim.

"The difficulty is to be active in a way that might help our cause," Cardinal Pell said. "You could very easily try to be active in this area and be counter-productive. I welcome any sorts of activities that's likely to convince our neighbours not to use the death penalty."

Meanwhile Melbourne Archdiocesan vicar general Monsignor Les Tomlinson stressed that while the Church strongly opposes the death penalty, it certainly did not condone Van Nguyen's crime.

But Monsignor Tomlinson said Nguyen openly admitted his crime and dealt with his fate by turning to God.

"There is no disputing he was guilty of a crime and there is no disputing it should be punished," he said.

Monsignor Tomlinson said capital punishment was not "a solution for any crime".

"Some people have mistakenly thought the church was minimising the significance of his crime and thought the church was trying to condone or trivialise what he had done," Monsignor Tomlinson said. "He didn't try to minimise the enormity of his crime."

St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne will become the centre of worldwide interest at Nguyen's funeral on Wednesday when his family, friends and the wider community will reflect on his life.

Monsignor Tomlinson said Nguyen was a striking example of how faith in God helped to accept one's death and in turn, gave comfort to loved ones who were consumed with grief.

"He is a man who is guilty of a crime, he admitted it, and he was given a death by hanging," Monsignor Tomlinson said.

"When all failed, he accepted the sentence and no doubt buoyed up by the faith he found with God.

"His faith was the source of help to those around him to give them comfort in their distress."

Pell recognises challenge of death penalty abolition (ABC News 4/12/05)
Nguyen execution not the answer: church (The Age/Australian Associated Press 4/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Parish of St Ignatius, Richmond - includes Homily given by Parish Priest, Father Peter Norden, at the Vigil Service conducted at St Ignatius Church immediately before the execution of Van Nguyen in Singapore on 2nd December.
Background - Australian Catholic Students Association
Minh Bui: Australia, awake from your slumber!

Van Nguyen's faith-filled last moments (CathNews 2/11/05)
Cathedral requiem for Van Nguyen (CathNews 2/12/05)
Churches, mosques echo with prayers (CathNews 1/12/05)
Prayer vigils for Van Nguyen (CathNews 30/11/05)
Priest says Australia 'galvanised' against death penalty (CathNews 29/11/05)
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)

Final hours of darkness for Nguyen Brother keeps faith nearby (Canberra Times 3/12/05)
Australia rules out regional campaign against death penalty (Monsters and Critics/Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/12/05)
Nguyen execution will spur death penalty opposition: Amnesty (ABC TV Lateline 2/12/05)
Church service for Van Nguyen held in Melbourne (ABC Radio The World Today 2/12/05)
Misuse of Bible blamed for US death penalty culture (Ekklesia 4/12/05)
Nguyen funeral next week (Herald-Sun/Australian Associated Press 2/12/05)
Nguyen's last word: Stay away from drugs (The Advertiser 3/12/05)
Nguyen's body paraded for all to see (The Advertiser 3/12/05)
Nguyen's mother avoids media (The Courier Mail 5/12/05)
Hobart prays, mourns, ponders (The Mercury 3/12/05)
Clemency plea for drug smuggler (The Tablet 3/12/05)
Shock as Scot Kenny Richey is back on death row (The Universe 4/12/05)

5 Dec 2005