Bishop Appealed for California Convict's Life

Governor Allows Execution to Be Carried Out

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SAN QUENTIN, California, DEC. 13, 2005 ( The head of the U.S. bishops’ Domestic Policy Committee had asked California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to commute the death sentence of convicted killer Stanley Williams.

Williams, 51, a gang co-founder, was executed early today at San Quentin State Prison.

In solidarity with the Catholic bishops of California, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, the head of the U.S. episcopate’s Domestic Policy Committee, had made his unsuccessful appeal to the governor in a letter dated Dec. 9, which was posted Monday on Internet.

Bishop DiMarzio wrote: «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.»

«As pastors who minister to both the victims of capital crimes and those who sit on death row,» he continued, «we strongly believe that the use of the death penalty diminishes all of us when a man or woman is killed on our behalf.»

The bishop said that a recent pastoral statement of the U.S. prelates urges society to restrict itself to «other non-lethal means.»

Time to repent

«Such non-violent measures,» he wrote the governor, «can give the offender time to repent for his or her crime and allow the possibility of receiving God’s grace. …»

«For us this is not about ideology, but a fundamental respect for life. We do not believe that you can teach that killing is wrong by killing. We do not believe that you can defend life by taking life. In his encyclical ‘The Gospel of Life,’ Pope John Paul II challenged all followers of Christ to be ‘unconditionally pro-life.’ While this is not an easy path to follow it is a challenge to which we are all personally called.»

According to the Associated Press, Governor Schwarzenegger denied Williams’ request for clemency, suggesting that his supposed change of heart for four killings was not genuine.

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