Bishop William Brennan, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, today appealed to US Presidential candidate Governor George W Bush to spare the life of John Paul Penry.

John Paul Penry, who has the IQ of a child aged six, is due to be executed on 16 November.  According to the Rome-based Communita di Sant Egidio, he was convicted after signing a confession of guilt, which he was unable to understand because he is unable to read or write.

The Pope himself has already appealed in favour of Johnny on two occasions, recently sending an appeal for clemency to Governor Bush via the Nuncio.

Bishop Brennan reminded the Governor of the value of all human life, referring to the paralypmics underway in Sydney.

“We write to you from Sydney, Australia, where the Paralympic Games are currently taking place, to appeal for the life of John Paul Penry, an intellectually disabled man scheduled for execution on 16 November.  In the Paralympics we are seeing a celebration of the human spirit and an affirmation of the dignity and value of every human being regardless of their physical or intellectual disabilities,” he said.

“The protection of the God-given life and dignity of all human beings is one of the most solemn responsibilities of those in high public office.  We are praying for Johnny, and for you, that you may make a compassionate and humane decision”, Bishop Brennan said to Governor Bush in conclusion.

“The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is opposed to the death penalty because it is cruel, unnecessary and disregards the God-given dignity of every human life.  We appeal to all Catholics to promote the Gospel of Life by opposing the death penalty and all other threats to the dignity of human life.  A Position Paper on Why the ACSJC Opposes the Death Penalty is now available from our Secretariat and can be downloaded from our website.  It presents the thinking of the ACSJC on this issue and ideas for action.  A more detailed paper in the Catholic Social Justice Series by Dr Michael Costigan will be available in November.  Dr Costigan’s paper, titled The Death Penalty: Why Catholics Should Oppose It, sets out clearly the development of the Church’s teaching on this issue.  Orders can be placed with the ACSJC Secretariat”, Bishop Brennan explained.

“Please pray for John Paul Penry and for Governor George W Bush.  Our Secretariat can provide advice to those who are willing to take further action for the life of John Paul Penry”, Bishop Brennan concluded.