Holy See intercedes on behalf of Indonesian Catholics sentenced to death

.- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State of the Holy See, has penned a letter in the name of Pope Benedict XVI, requesting clemency for three Catholics scheduled to be executed today.

In a letter made public today, Sodano requested from Susilo Ydhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, a stay of execution for Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwu.  The three were sentenced to death in 2001, after being found guilty of leading a Christian mob in an attack which killed more than 200 people at an Islamic boarding school during Muslim-Christian clashes in Central Sulawesi's Poso region.  

Sodano wrote, “In the name of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI I turn to you again, Your Excellency, to seek your intervention on humanitarian grounds, and in light of the particularity of the case, in order that an act of clemency might be granted to these three Catholic citizens of your nation.”

Several groups, both in Indonesia and abroad, have requested a reconsideration of the death sentence in recent months.  From 1998 to 2001 fighting between Muslims and Christians in Central Sulawesi and the nearby Maluku Islands erupted, killing nearly 10,000 people in total, the majority of which were Christians.

Some 5000 Indonesians have taken to the streets in protest and prayer for a stop to the executions.

“In adding my voice to others I would also note the position of the Catholic Church which on numerous occasions has spoken out against the death penalty,” Sodano continued. “Trusting that this appeal made on behalf of His Holiness will meet with a positive outcome, I extend to you my sentiments of esteem.”

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