WASHINGTON (June 5, 1997) -- The Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee, United States Catholic Conference, released a statement saying: "We as bishops believe that to execute Mr. McVeigh could tragically perpetuate a terrible cycle of violence, further diminish respect for life and, perhaps most significantly, cannot truly ease the pain of those who have suffered so much loss."
"No act, including an execution, can really fill the void and heal the wounds of the loss of a child, a mother, a father, a brother or sister," said Bishop William S. Skylstad. "Mr. McVeigh's death cannot bring back those who have been lost."
Bishop Skylstad spoke in response to the sentencing phase of the federal Oklahoma City bombing trial. The jury which found Timothy McVeigh guilty of the 1995 bombing that took 168 lives is now deliberating his fate.
Speaking on behalf of the bishops, Bishop Skylstad pledged continued support and prayers for victims of the bombing. "We can only imagine the magnitude of the agony being felt by the families of the victims and the survivors," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are still with them as they relive that painful tragedy."
"Our passions cry out for vengeance," the Bishop said. "However, our God calls us to show mercy as He has shown mercy, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. "We must always seek ways to break the culture of violence that grips our society."
"Sending Mr. McVeigh to prison for life rather than to death row would be one step in demonstrating that all life is precious, even the life of one who has been found to have so brutally destroyed the lives of others," Bishop Skylstad said. "We do not believe that killing the person who killed so many of our sisters and brothers can teach our society that killing is wrong."