WASHINGTON (June 2, 1999) -- Writing on behalf of Pope John Paul II, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States has appealed for clemency for Scotty Moore, an Oklahoma man scheduled to be executed Thursday, June 3.
The Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, wrote (June 1) to the members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, in Oklahoma City.
"His Holiness counts on your right to spare a life by commuting Mr. Moore's sentence with a gesture of mercy that would hopefully contribute to the promotion of nonviolence in today's society," Archbishop Montalvo said.
"As you know, the Holy Father's appeals to end the death penalty have become more and more frequent and pressing, especially as the new Millennium draws near," the Archbishop wrote.
Archbishop Montalvo noted that in the homily of his Mass in St. Louis last January 27, the Holy Father said: "a sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."
"A sentence of life without the possibility of parole provides substantial safeguards for society and levels a grave punishment against the accused," Archbishop Montalvo stated.
"While in solidarity with those who have been deeply hurt by the loss of Mr. Alex Fernandez, the Holy Father also prays that the life of Mr. Moore may be saved through the compassion and magnanimity of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. His Holiness counts on your right to spare a life by commuting Mr. Moore's sentence with a gesture of mercy that would hopefully contribute to the promotion of nonviolence in today's society."
Scotty Moore, now 42, was convicted of the shooting death of Alex Fernandez, who was working as a desk clerk at the Airline Motel in Oklahoma City in 1983.
The Church's involvement in the death penalty issue has taken on a high profile, especially this year. In January, Pope John Paul II appealed for an end to the death penalty, in Ecclesia in America, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation which he released in Mexico City. After flying to St. Louis, he successfully appealed to Gov. Carnahan of Missouri to commute the death sentence of convicted murderer Darrell Mease. The U.S. Bishops' Administrative Board released a statement on Good Friday, April 2, 1999, calling on the nation's more than 60 million Catholics to fight the death penalty.