"If I´m Murdered, Don´t Execute My Killer"

Campaign Against Death Penalty Launched by U.S. Nun

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NEW YORK, MAY 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- As new questions arise in the case of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh, the media´s attention is focusing on an anti-death penalty document already signed by thousands.

The so-called Declaration of Life has a simple message: «If I´m murdered, don´t execute my killer.»

Sister Camille D´Arienzo, a nun from New York, started a group in 1993 which is responsible for distributing the declaration, which states that capital punishment is wrong.

If a signer is killed, he requests that the judge not sentence the culprit to death. «People are sick to death of the killing,» Sister D´Arienzo said.

Paul Stevens of Dawson Springs, Kentucky, whose daughter was murdered in 1969, is one of at least 1,500 people who have signed the declaration in recent months.

Stevens, who now works as a prison minister to death row inmates at a state penitentiary, signed it while attending a speech by Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, on Feb. 26. The cardinal expressed his opposition to McVeigh´s execution, and explained Catholic doctrine on this subject.

McVeigh was convicted for the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which killed 168 people. He was originally scheduled to be executed today at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft postponed the execution until June 11, after the Justice Department acknowledged it failed to give thousands of investigation files to McVeigh´s defense team for his 1997 trial.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis, Indiana, who is also a member of the U.S. bishops´ pro-life activities commission, said during an archdiocesan prayer vigil: «Any decision not to take a human life is a good decision even if it represents only a temporary delay. The stay of execution of Timothy McVeigh in no way changes the Church´s position on the death penalty.

«The death penalty for capital crimes, while a right of the state, is no longer the only way for society to protect itself from the criminal. Pope John Paul II has called the death penalty ´cruel and unnecessary.´»

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