Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Indonesia Executes 3 Christian activists - a view from Rome

Zenit News Agency reports "The Holy See is disturbed by the execution of three Indonesian Catholics, after it repeatedly appealing (sic) for clemency in the name of Benedict XVI.

The judicial process that led to the death sentences drew criticism for being unfair. The executions occurred at 1:10 a.m. last Friday, local time, in Palu, Indonesia.

The next day, the Vatican press office published a communiqué: "The Holy See learned with great distress the news of the executions of the Mr. Fabianus Tibo, Mr. Dominggus da Silva and Marianus Riwu, considered responsible for the violence in Poso, Indonesia, in 2000.

"With regard to this, the [Vatican] Secretariat of State appealed repeatedly to the Indonesia authorities, in the name of the Holy Father, for a gesture of clemency for the three condemned men."

In addition to a telegram published Aug. 12, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, then Vatican secretary of state, had sent the Indonesian head of state, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, two letters, dated Dec. 5, 2005, and March 7, 2006, respectively.

Likewise, "steps were taken through the Indonesian Embassy to the Holy See on Dec. 13, 2005, Feb. 14 and Sept. 20, 2006," confirmed the communiqué.

It added: "On a strictly humanitarian plane, inspired by the known position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, and keeping in mind the particularities of this distressing case, with its interventions the Holy See attempted for some time to contribute to the efforts in favor of the process of reconciliation in Indonesia and the traditional peaceful coexistence among members of different religions, which it hopes will continue to characterize that great country."

I hope the Vatican concentrates more on such efforts to stop state sanctioned murder, and avoids gratuitous commentary on Islam that has the potential to fuel fundamentalist hostility toward the West. A focus on the sanctity of life befits all churches - Rome would do more for world harmony by adopting a similar position in cases involving non-Catholics sentenced to death.

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