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Office of Global Mission, Justice and Peace
April 2007

For Whom the Bells Toll

We continue our vigil by raising our banner and ringing the bells on execution days until there is a moratorium on the death penalty. Please continue to pray for victims, those executed, and for the families of all.

April 2007

16 Bruce Webster Federal
17 John Spirko OH
18 Cathy Henderson TX
24 James Filaggi OH
26 Ryan Dickson TX

Death Penalty Update

Regarding Cathy Henderson

By Sister Helen Prejeun

February 07, 2007

This is February and Cathy is alive. In twenty more days it will be March, and she will be alive all through March. But then April comes and if the state of Texas and the courts have their way, Cathy Henderson is not going to live past April 18th.

That is the date of her scheduled killing in the nation’s busiest killing chamber. They’ll take her around 5:30 in the evening to insert the IV tubes. As her spiritual advisor, I’ll be allowed one last visit with her around 4:30 for just a half hour or so. Then the state-hired chaplain takes over. No matter that I know her, that I love her, care about her life, respect her life, have fought for her to live, and want to be with her during every minute of her last hours on this earth. No matter. In Texas’ cold protocol of death, any chaplain will do. Get in there and do your God-thing. Get her ready to meet her Maker. We want her to have every spiritual benefit before we carry out the punishment. We’re not heathens. We don’t relish this death. Just doing our job, our duty. We respect that she has an immortal soul.

These words and the mentality they represent - using religion to bless the killing ritual - can be found in wardens’ mouths almost word for word in Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents.

It’s a weird, impossible task, counting the days toward Cathy’s death. In her last letter she wrote in unmistakable terms, “I’m absolutely not afraid of dying, but I’m worried about the poisons they’re going to inject into me.”

Cathy’s big focus now is on the suffering of her children, especially her youngest 17-year-old daughter. The poor kid is having a tough time concentrating in school and is fighting depression. Who can get their mind around such a bizarre reality, that the state is fully intent on killing this young woman’s mother? You’re going to kill my mother? And you’re telling me this is legal and good for society? Killing my mother?

I do not accept that Cathy is going to die. Her case sits now at this very moment in the hands of the Supreme Court. We pray, we hope, we wait. Our dedicated pro bono lawyer, George Cumming, the Man of the Hour, after consulting widely, has put forth the most skilled arguments he knows to plead justice for Cathy before the high court. In the hope that the court will approve the petition, the firm has already hired an investigator and a neurological expert to do the thorough work that should have been done for Cathy in preparation for her original trial.

We’re praying for a miracle. The letters of love, of support and compassion have been pouring in – 1,550 of them and counting. This love avalanche pouring over Cathy, this is in no small way a miracle. Spread the word about Cathy. Invite people to the web page. Write to her. Send her beautiful scenes from nature.

And write to the suffering parents, the Baugh family, who are going through their own agonizing hell of loss of their three-month-old son. Pray for them. Surround them with love and compassion.

They all need it.

Dominicans Address United Nations Regarding Iraqi Refugees

Geneva March 12–April 5 The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is in session, and the Dominican Family is there to do what they do best: use their voice for those who need it most. At this session, along with four other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Dominicans are presenting a letter to the Human Rights Council entitled “ The Situation of Iraqi Refugees and Displaced Persons."

The first section of the letter addresses the present situation in Iraq, including both refugees who have fled the countries, as well as those who are internally displaced. Some staggering statistics offered by the UNHRC articulate how taxed the host countries have become as a result of the high volumes of displaced persons they accept into their own borders.According to UNHRC estimates, Syria has taken in 1,000,000 Iraqis, Jordan, 750,000, Egypt, 80,000-130,000. The United States has taken in 463 Iraqis since the beginning of the 2003 invasion; however, the US Administration announced on February 15, 2007 that it would grant asylum for up to 7000 refugees over the next year.

The refugees that make it out of Iraq are met with tremendous hardship and with no educational support, can only obtain menial jobs, if they can find them. Their medical and mental needs are not being addressed, and all are suffering terribly.

The Statement creates a detailed list of the hardships faced by the people of the region and also contains a recommendation section. The recommendations include working on basic needs, including food, clothing, medical attention and educational resources for both the internally and externally displaced Iraqis. It calls for western countries to share the weight of the displacement and to take with utmost seriousness the work of rebuilding the war-ravaged country through the international community.

To view the letter Click Here