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Petition Urges Pope to Condemn Death Penalty

Religious sisters and pro-life advocates have launched a petition drive to urge Pope Francis to call for an end to capital punishment in the U.S. and to personally intervene in the case of a prisoner in Indiana.

The Sisters of Mercy and Cherish Life Circle, a pro-life advocacy group founded by the religious community, launched the appeal following the botched execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, Jan. 16.

When a previously untried lethal mixture of drugs was administered to McGuire, he visibly suffered for nearly 25 minutes before expiring. As a result, some states are now seeking alternative execution methods.

Morally Unacceptable

In their petition, the Mercy Sisters and Cherish Life Circle maintain that the method used is not the problem. It is the decision to kill that is morally unacceptable.

The two groups are committed to nonviolence and are strong advocates of social issues in conflict with Gospel values.

Special Intervention

The petition also asks Pope Francis to intervene specifically in the case of David Paul Hammer, who faces a death sentence for the killing of a cellmate 20 years ago. Hammer, now in the Special Confinement Unit of the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., has devoted his life to assisting others, especially children who suffer the poverty and abuse that characterized his own childhood.

Hammer has also designed Christmas cards, which have been sold with all proceeds benefitting children in protective care. On Oct. 27, 2000, he was received into the Catholic Church by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis.

To view and sign the petition, visit

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