Washington--On behalf of Pope John Paul II, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States has
written to the governors of Texas and Ohio, appealing for clemency for death row prisoners in those states.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo wrote to Governor George W. Bush of Texas, October 27, in the case of Mr. David Hicks. The Archbishop wrote the same day to Governor Bob Taft of Ohio, concerning Mr. Kenny Richey.
In his letter to Governor Bush, Archbishop Montalvo quoted Pope John Paul II at the Mass which he celebrated in St. Louis last January: "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," the Pope said. "Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."
The State of Texas has scheduled the execution of David Hicks for January 20, 2000.
In his letter to Governor Taft, Archbishop Montalvo wrote: "A sentence of life without the possibility of parole provides substantial safeguards to society and levels a grave punishment against the accused."
Convicted of murder, Mr. Richey was sentenced on January 26, 1987. His execution date has not been set.
The Church's involvement in the issue of capital punishment accelerated rapidly this year. In his visit to St. Louis, the Pope successfully appealed to Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan to commute the death sentence of a convicted murderer. The U.S. Bishops' Administrative Board released a Good Friday statement, April 2, calling on the nation's 60 million Catholics to oppose the death penalty. Archbishop Montalvo has appealed for death row prisoners in a number of different states throughout 1999.
NOTE: A copy of the U.S. Bishops' Good Friday statement can be obtained through the Department of Communications of the United States Catholic Conference. It is also available on the Conference website, WWW.NCCBUSCC.ORG.