DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     February 1, 1999     vol. 10, no. 21

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II on Thursday at the end of his latest trip expressed his "great satisfaction" at the gesture of clemency by the Governor of the State of Missouri with regard to Darrell Mease, a death row inmate condemned who had been condemned to die next month.

          The clemency is the first time that a request for mercy by the Holy Father for a condemned prisoner in the US succeeded. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said this gesture "opens new prospects."

          Less than six hour after his departure for Rome on Thursday, at the end of the Pontiff's 85th foreign journey to Mexico and the United States, the Pope learned of the decision by Gov. Mel Carnahan to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment for Darrell Mease, accused of a 1988 triple homicide and condemned to by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The sentence was originally set to be carried out last Wednesday, the last day of the papal visit to St. Louis, but was pushed back to February 10 in a December decision.

          The Holy Father who, throughout his American stay did not fail to strongly condemn the death penalty, "had personally asked the governor to take into consideration his request for clemency for Mr. Mease," according to a statement of the Holy See. Cardinal Sodano had also had "a private talk" with the Governor of Missouri "in order to present to him, in the name of the Holy Father, a request for clemency for humane reasons."

          Carnahan, commenting on his gesture in a statement, said he continued to support the death penalty but acted out of a "deep respect for the Sovereign Pontiff and all that he represents."

          Other calls by the Holy Father for cases of the death penalty in the United States had not resulted in positive outcomes. The most famous recent cases are those of Joseph O'Dell in Virginia in 1997 and Karla Faye Tucker in Texas in 1998. Cardinal Sodano, interviewed by Italian state television RAI, affirmed Friday that this gesture "opens new prospects ... and will make everyone reflect a little." He recalled the wish of the Holy See to "come to a consensus, an awakening" to find "other forms so that society can defend itself" without having to resort to the death penalty, a "cruel and useless" act, to repeat the same words of the Pope in Saint Louis.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

February 1, 1999       volume 10, no. 21


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