Campaigners are holding a prayer vigil outside Terre Haute federal prison in Indiana, USA, where the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, 33, is due to be executed by lethal injection later today. The 1995 Oklahoma bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured more than 500 others. On 2 April, the Archbishop of Indianapolis, Daniel M. Buechlein, O.S.B., issued a statement sympathising at length with families and friends of the victims, but protesting at McVeigh's sentence. He said: "We can't imagine the full impact of the shocking loss of the families and friends whose loved ones, including small children, were victims of human madness. We continue to pray for the victims and their families. What twisted mind could perpetrate such a crime against innocent humanity?" But, he continued: "Like no other, the McVeigh case tests the mettle of the emerging Catholic view about the inappropriateness of capital punishment. Rational analysis is difficult in the face of the emotion that this man's crime evokes. The 'tantalizing' manner in which this is becoming a national media event compounds the task. Yet, in matters such as this, the good of society requires that we rise to the challenge of a measured and larger vision." He said: ".. we must oppose the death penalty because the circumstances of our day do not warrant it. Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae: "As a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system," cases in which the execution of the offender would be absolutely necessary "are very rare, if not practically non-existent". "The Church's teaching about the state's authority does not change, but the state should not exercise its right if the evil effects outweigh the good. In recent times, the death penalty does more harm than good because it feeds a frenzy for revenge, while there is no demonstrable proof that capital punishment deters violence. "Revenge neither liberates the families of victims nor ennobles the victims of crime. Only forgiveness liberates. "To be sure, we, as a society, must never forget the victims of crime and their bereaved loved ones. The truly honourable memorial is to choose life rather than death."
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