Bishops sought Schwarzenegger clemency for death row inmate

It has been revealed that the US bishops joined numerous human rights organisations and celebrities last week in asking California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to commute Stanley Tookie Williams' death sentence.

However, Schwarzenegger could not be persuaded and Williams was executed early Tuesday morning local time, 25 years after he was convicted of murdering four people.

Catholic News Agency reports that the head of the US Bishops' Domestic Policy Committee, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, in solidarity with the Catholic Bishops of California, asked the governor to grant Williams clemency in a letter on Friday.

"I am writing to urge that you exercise your power of clemency to spare the life of Mr Stanley "Tookie" Williams," wrote Bishop DiMarzio. "It is not my intent in any way to diminish the responsibility of those who have committed terrible crimes; however, this execution can only compound the violence that already exists in our society."

He referred to both John Paul II's Gospel of Life and the US bishops' recent pastoral statement on the death penalty, titled "The Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death."

The pastoral statement, which accompanied Bishop DiMarzio's letter, affirms the teaching of the Catechism with regard to the death penalty and states that American society has the means to defend itself "without resorting to the use of the death penalty and should therefore restrict itself to other non-lethal means."

"Such non-violent measures can give the offender time to repent for his or her crime and allow the possibility of receiving God's grace," Bishop DiMarzio wrote.

US bishops asked Schwarzenegger to grant Williams' clemency (Catholic News Agency 13/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
A Culture of Life - US Bishops Statement on the Death Penalty (US Conference of Catholic Bishps 18/11/05 - PDF)
Community of Sant'Egidio - No to the Death Penalty
Sister Helen Prejean
Tookie Williams Home Page

US death row inmate executed despite cardinal's pleas (CathNews 8/12/05)
Executions today also in USA (CathNews 2/12/05)
US Bishops statement calls for rejection of death penalty (CathNews 17/11/05)

Real Tookie Williams elusive in death row debate (Retuers 12/12/05)
The execution of Stanley Tookie Williams (Salon 13/12/05)

14 Dec 2005