McVeigh set to die, but we dont need his death
By CAMILLE DARIENZO
Trout swimming upstream for the survival of their species, leaping over boulders and cascading rapids at the risk of being swept downstream are akin to us who speak against the death penalty in the case of Timothy McVeigh. We seem more at one with the mysterious forces of nature than with our brothers and sisters looking forward to his May 16 execution in the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.
Make no mistake about it; this horrific case tests our conviction that capital punishment is immoral. Nevertheless, from our deepest religious reservoir comes the spiritual survival instinct that insists: no more death. If the killing of one-time altar boy Timothy McVeigh could restore the lives of all who died in the hell he created, then, perhaps, some of us might be swayed.
Execution advocates charge us with insensitivity. You lost no loved one in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, they say. This is true, but we anguish over the senseless killing and the seemingly remorseless killer as much as those who also lost no one in the bombing but issue vociferous calls for the death penalty. We have mourned the dead and prayed for those whose lives are forever changed because of the evil done that April 19, 1995.
When we wonder if anyone personally affected might agree with us, we remember with gratitude the position taken by Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter died in the blast. Interviewed by The New York Times (June 23, 1997) within sight of the place of destruction, he said, I dont need another death. He expressed the hope that a long prison term might draw from McVeigh the reason for his deed.
In the unsettling and unsettled intervening years, Welch has befriended McVeighs father, who, while grieving for the events of that day and its consequences, also grieves for a long period of estrangement from his son that preceded that pivotal date. After Timothy McVeigh was arrested, law officers impounded the contents of his mailbox. Included was an unopened birthday card from his dad.
Why do we who stand with Bud Welch not make an exception in this unusual instance of mass destruction? Because there are principles we cannot forsake. While others of good conscience may disagree, we adhere to these beliefs:
Mercy Sr. Camille DArienzo is president of the Brooklyn Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
National Catholic Reporter, April 6, 2001