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Beliefnet News

Pope Thanks N.M. Governor for Death Penalty Repeal

Vatican City – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Wednesday (Apr. 15), hours before a Catholic group lit up Rome’s Coliseum to honor New Mexico’s recent abolition of the death penalty.
Richardson, a former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, led a state delegation to Rome for the evening lighting ceremony, which was sponsored by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic group whose activities include a world-wide campaign against capital punishment.
Earlier in the day, Richardson attended Benedict’s weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square, where he was seated in the front row of spectators, along with Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe.
Following the audience, Sheehan introduced the governor to the pope, saying “Holy Father, this is our governor and he just repealed the death penalty,” to which the pope “nodded very happily in agreement,” the archbishop later told reporters.
According to Catholic News Service, Richardson asked Benedict to bless a silver olive branch, a gift from Sant’Egidio honoring his decision last month to sign the state law repealing the death penalty.
A spokesman for Richardson told the Reuters news agency that the governor and the pope spoke for “several minutes,” and discussed the death penalty “among other issues.”
There were no reports that either of the men mentioned legalized abortion or embryonic stem-cell research, both of which the church forbids and Richardson supports.
In a February meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic and a supporter of abortion rights who has publicly disputed the Vatican’s position on the subject, Benedict lectured Pelosi on the “church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • pagansister

    And that man ran for the presidental nomination. Am glad he didn’t win. He may have had a hard time separating himself from the RCC, which it appears JFK didn’t.

  • nnmns

    Can’t hurt to get a picture or two with the Pope when running in New Mexico but I don’t see a problem; he’s not on the Vatican side of abortion or stem cell research.

  • sinsonte

    I hope pro-death catholics like Pat and Bray Buchanan get the message.
    p.s. to pagansister: for a pagan, you sure do tow the conservative party line. What gives?!? I’ll admit my only contact with pagans is through a few lesbian/feminist/goddess worshippers, but I had a view that pagans, in general, were less blood-thirsty than the average conservative chistian. How wrong I seemed to be.

  • Mordred08

    To those who say us liberals are anti-Catholic, there seems to be at least one issue we can agree on. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see this happening in my state (Alabama) anytime soon.

  • Your Name

    Blood-thirsty? All I said was I think Richardson mgiht have had a hard time keeping his RCC from politics. If that makes me blood-thirsty…so be it. In certain situations…I’m not against the death penalty. Those who read here regularly know that. Not new to them. Reasons not necessary to give. Had Richardson won the Demo. nomination, I’d have had a hard time choosing who to vote for. Neither McCain or Richardson would have cut it. Believe me, I’m not conservative. As to your associations regarding Pagans? I’ve been married for 44 years, and have 2 grown children. Am pro-choice & liberal most of the time, believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians…and hope they get the right to marry in all states. My lesbian friends are. All should be allowed to do so.
    nnmns: Nice to know that Richardson isn’t on the Vatican’s side regarding stem cell research & abortion. That’s in his favor.

  • pagansister

    OOPS: above is mine…pagansister

  • sinsonte

    I’ve been around here for a long time, too. I’m not suprised that you support the death penalty, many of your posts have show an inclination to the right-side of the political spectrum. I just found it interesting that someone who identifies with a group historically harrassed and persecuted (pagans) whould embrace the punishment (death penalty/burning at the stake) that whould have been imposed on you (pagans/witches) in less-happier times.
    BTW: The same critique applies to Christian supporters of the death penalty whose Founder was killed legally by the state

  • Jaho

    Was Randall Terry there to denounce the radical hard-left pope for allowing a Democrat to touch Holy See soil?
    No. No. No. In for a penny. In for a pound. Those who put Fr. Jenkins at ND through hell need to come on out and denounce Benedict. Call for a resignation! C’mon!

  • nnmns

    Excellent point, Jaho.

  • robroy

    Richardson also said he would refuse, if elected president, the honorific leadership position of the Boy Scouts because of their stand against homosexuality.

  • methodistsearching

    The pope and the Catholic Church are only samples of many human rights groups who would want to congratulate Richardson on this. When Illinois repealed its death penalty, the governor was congratulated and thanked by Nelson Mandela.
    I would not characterize Richardson’s repeal as being led around by the RCC.

  • Tom

    I take it your not a big Gov. Carcieri fan either, are you Pagansis?

  • nnmns

    On the issue of the Vatican, it’s released a statement about reactions to the Pope’s recent analysis of condoms and AIDS.

    It said the remarks had been “used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the Pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the Church’s doctrine.”

    So if you criticize the Pope you are unfairly trying to stifle him. The self pity of many right wingers has no bounds.

  • pagansister

    sinsonte, I had a whole post and it disappeared when I tried to refresh it!
    Pagans weren’t the only ones killed and tortured for their religious beliefs…many folks were killed when they weren’t following the “in”religion…Crusades, Inquisition, etc. so using the basis of “witch” torture/executions of the past really has nothing to do with what I would base my death penalty views on. All religions have been persecuted at some point. IMO, those that commit horrific crimes (there are no “good” crimes) and have been PROVEN GUILTY beyond doubt, need not be allowed to survive. Murder of children bothers me the most. Why should the guilty party be housed, fed and given medical care for the rest of their lives, when that wasn’t possible for their victim? I can’t forget the victim(s). No, execution doesn’t bring back the victim. No, it probably doesn’t stop someone from killing. However it assures that no one else will be killed by that person. Even when I identified as a Christian, my support for the death penalty wasn’t different. Yes, JC was killed by the ruling party. Only difference, JC didn’t run about torturing/killing children and others. He just ticked off the govenment.
    Tom, I didn’t vote for the Gov. However to his credit, he has done some good things for this state…especially now with the economic crisis…has let a lot of state workers go. BTW, as you probably know, RI doesn’t have the death penalty.

  • pagansister

    What is you opinion on the penalty for the woman accused (and not found guilty yet ) for killing (after raping with an object) the 8 year old girl? That child suffered…and was killed, if she is guilty, by a woman who was known to her, as a Sunday school teacher. The teacher has a 5 year old girl, who was a friend of the dead child.
    One example. I want the woman totally given a fair trial…tested to see if she is mentally ill, didn’t know right from wrong etc. (probably the defense?) but if indeed after all that…found guilty. She is 28, does she need to be housed, fed and given medical care until she’s 95? The 8 year old little girl can’t grow up…she’s dead…and apparently died painfully. If mentally ill, hospital until she’s competant to stand trial.

  • pagansister

    Thanks for the post, nnmns. Very interesting. It’ll take a lot more than that to “stifle” Benny.

  • Nate W

    No one’s life is of so little value that we have the right to throw it away, pagansister, no matter their level of innocence or guilt. If in the heat of action we have to kill someone to prevent them from committing a heinous crime, that’s one thing, but it’s quite another to calmly and coolly condemn a captured criminal to death in the comfort of a court room.

  • pagansister

    Yes, Nate W., life is very valuable. However convicted criminals apparently don’t see it that way when they kill, on purpose…and I’m not talking self defence here…but some horrible, painful death inflicted on another person, on purpose. IMO, the convicted (with all the due process and total undeniable proof of guilt) loses value. Just my opinion. No case is the same. Would you think that Hitler (extreme example)had he not chickened out and killed himself, should have been given “life in prison” for his actions? Or would death have been appropriate? Was his life valuable…or those who chose to carry out his orders? Fortunately some of them did pay for their actions.

  • Confessoressa

    The government shouldn’t be in the business of punishing people as they are not and never should be, considered a moral authority. The job of the government is to protect the individual, and from what I can tell, killing someone isn’t necessary to do that.

  • pagansister

    Confessoressa, then how do you punish those who kill for pleasure? Who does make them pay for their crimes if not government?

  • Henrietta22

    I didn’t know that Richardson was RC, seems like I should pay more attention to peoples religious backgrounds in public office. Nnmns he might have been on the side of peoples’s choice before, but since this power experience with the Pope it may all change. I heard the prosecution is going with the death penalty for Tot Mom in FL. This will probably end up that she admits killing her toddler by accident and will then live happily ever after in jail with her candy bars, TV, and three meals a day forever.

  • Your Name

    That’s an excellent question and I think a good precurser to it might be “Is anyone responsible for punishing immoral behavior in adults?” and I would weigh in on the side of no. Another precurory question would be, “What is the purpose of punishing criminals?”. Is it to cause them an amount of pain equal to the value that they caused? Is it to prevent them from perpetrating criminal activity on someone else? Is it to prevent others from behaving in the same manner? I think those are all good questions to start out with in a conversation like this one.
    If you think punishment is appropriate…then would death be a good option? Again, I would think not, unless you believe in that place some call Hell and even then, it’s eternal, so is that fair? Some of us think the individual dies at death and then that seems like it’s really no punishment at all if you’re simply taken out of living.
    And then after you sort through all of that, you are still left with the idea that this authority to punish is given to the questionably morally reliable group that we call government.
    I do think it’s a great questions PS!

  • jestrfyl

    See, there are times when I DO agree with the b16.
    I am four square opposed to the death penalty. Nothing I have heard, seen or read has convinced me that death is a deterant for people who commit violent crimes. Nor does the death of the criminal ease most people’s sense of loss. There are a multitude of other reasons as well.
    But the reason for my response is to say that here I find myself standing with b16, Richardson, and others who would abolish the death penalty. Wonders continue to happen.

  • pagansister

    You’re a better person than I, jestrfyl.

  • jestrfyl

    I doubt that entirely. We are all unique, distinct, and encouraged to disagee joyfully, enthusiastically, and politely. That is the fun of B’net.

  • Dudley Sharp

    It appears conclusive that executing murderers does help in protecting more innocents.
    There is a review of that in the first link.
    1. “Rebuttal to Governor Richardson – Repeal of the Death Penalty in New Mexico”–repeal-of-the-death-penalty-in-new-mexico.aspx
    2. “Why did Gov. Richardson repeal the death penalty? His legacy”

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