Most honorable members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole
My name is Eusebius J. Beltran. I am the Catholic archbishop of
Oklahoma City. In that capacity, I am responsible for all the Catholic people
living in central and western Oklahoma and the panhandle. Moreover, through our
various educational, civic and social services, which are available for all
people, we directly serve and assist the entire population of Oklahoma.
I have been a resident of Oklahoma for the past 23 years. The
first 15 years, I was the bishop of Tulsa, and these past eight years, the
archbishop of Oklahoma City. You can see then that I have a long-standing
commitment to the well-being of our beloved state of Oklahoma. It is because of
my respect for the dignity of every human person and my love for Oklahoma that
I have asked to address you. Thank you for your kindness in giving me this
The Websters New International Dictionary defines clemency
as the disposition to treat with less rigor than ones authority or
power permits. Aware of this meaning, I humbly ask you to hear and grant
my request for clemency for Mark Andrew Fowler, who is scheduled for execution
on Jan. 23.
My relationship with Mark and his family goes back to 1978. At
that time I first met Fr. Gregory Gier, an uncle of Mark. Through Fr. Gier I
eventually met Marks grandparents, his parents and Mark himself. I
visited Marks home in Oklahoma City during the time his mother, Caroline,
was suffering from cancer. Later I participated in her funeral service. When
Mark was arrested and convicted for the robbery and murders, Fr. Gier informed
me of these tragic events. Over the past 15 years, he has continued to keep me
posted on the facts of this case.
Today, I come here personally to assure the relatives of the
victims in this case that my prayers are with them. I, too, grieve for their
loss. I pray for their healing. I also come here to plead for clemency for Mark
Fowler. I do not excuse him for his complicity in this horrendous act. I do not
ask that he ever be set free. I ask for clemency -- that you, the members of
the Pardon and Parole Board -- would use less rigor than your authority or
power permits. You have in your hands today the power of life or death. I beg
you to choose life! Life is a gift from God. Every human being is created by
God in His own Image and Likeness. When a person commits sin by performing
brutal actions or unjust aggression, that person tarnishes the Image of God. In
His goodness, God calls that person to repentance. Repentance leads to
conversion. Conversion is a lifelong process that effects reconciliation.
To execute Mark Fowler is to cut short the penance and
conversion he needs to make. To execute Mark Fowler does not bring back the
lives of those he is accused of killing. To execute Mark Fowler does not effect
a single positive objective fact. To execute Mark Fowler does not rectify the
wrong that he did. Executing Mark Fowler only perpetuates the violence and evil
The fact that we are the only country in the Western Hemisphere
to continue to impose the death penalty should raise certain fundamental
questions. Is this the best that we can do? Or does an execution simply return
evil for evil? When we do return evil for evil, we degrade ourselves.
I beg you, members of the Pardon and Parole Board, to grant
clemency to Mark Fowler. Clemency means to act with less rigor. This is not an
easy matter for you, for me, for the victims families or our governor.
Clemency, especially in the face of such brutal acts, may seem impossible in
human terms. Yet, with the grace of God, we see family members and loved ones
of murder victims who can and do forgive. Our Lord Jesus, himself a victim of
the death penalty, forgave his oppressors. Pope John Paul II also forgave his
would-be assassin and visited him in his prison cell. The power of forgiveness
is real. It heals the forgiver and communicates Gods mercy to the
Please, find it in your hearts to grant clemency to Mark Fowler.
In this instance you have the power of life or death -- choose life -- not
violence and death.
Thank you and God bless you.
Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran