U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was presented 2.7 million signatures from citizens of 145 countries who are petitioning for a moratorium on the death penalty. One official, meanwhile, expressed hope that the new U.S. president-elect will take notice.
The presentation Monday was the culmination of the Moratorium 2000 campaign to collect signatures against capital punishment. The initiative was promoted by Sant´Egidio Community ( http://www.santegidio.org ) and Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking.” It was in response to John Paul II´s appeal, on the eve of the Jubilee Year, to promote justice in keeping with a human person´s dignity.
Mario Marazziti, Sant´Egidio spokesman, told Vatican Radio that the proposal for a moratorium might be well received by U.S. President-elect George W. Bush.
“Of course, he arrives with the curriculum of being governor of the state of the union with the greatest number of executions,” Marazziti said. “However, from my point of view, the moratorium is a good proposal for the United States to get out of its predicament of being the only great democracy in the world to use this recourse.”
The spokesman was less optimistic about China and the Arab countries. He believes years must go by before the culture of respect for life penetrates these countries. He mentioned, however, that “many Muslim countries, which maintain the death penalty, have no difficulty in practice supporting the moratorium.”