Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholics Speak out against Death for McVeigh

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholics Speak out against Death for McVeigh

Article excerpt

As the jury in Denver decided to sentence convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh to death June 13, Catholics spoke out against capital punishment, saying McVeigh's death would not bring healing.

Catholic Bud Welch lost his 23-year-old daughter Julie-Marie to the April 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. Welch said his Catholicism teaches him that even McVeigh "has a soul, and we must at least try to save him -- and even try to forgive him."

In a June 16 column in Newsweek, he said, "I'll have to be forgiving if I am to have peace. That would be harder if he is executed. ... The only way I can go on is to continue to believe in the sanctity of life -- even a mass murderer's."

Following the guilty verdict June 2, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran of Oklahoma City said June 10 that "the death penalty perpetuates a terrible cycle of violence, diminishes respect for human life and ultimately fails to ease the pain of those who grieve."

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver told reporters covering the trial there that the jury in the McVeigh case was in a difficult position.

"I pray that they make a decision that serves society in the long run -- and that decision, from my perspective," he said, "is to give life imprisonment and not execution."

Some Catholic government officials do not share that view.

In television interviews, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., both Catholics, have said McVeigh deserves the death penalty. …

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