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May 28 2015

The personal story of friendship with Paula Cooper impels us to remember her, along with all those who loved her, like Bill Pelke


by Carlo santoro, Community of Sant'Egidio

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Tuesday evening, May 26th our friends from Indianapolis (who have been helping during these 2 years of freedom) called us to say that Paula had died. The police are still investigating the cause of her death. Two years ago, Paula had been released from prison after nearly 30 years and she had started a new life. She was happy and proud to work, she had a house and she lived on her own. Certainly she faced many difficulties as well in her new life. After so many years in prison it is not so easy to get back to ordinary life. Her dream was to have a "normal" life, a family, like everyone else. And first of all she wanted to "disappear". She did not want to be treated as "a case" in the newspapers, having to have interviews where her story had been reported so many times. She just wanted to be forgotten by the media. She did not want to be remembered for the crime she had committed 30 years before. She said: "The person who commits a crime deserves a punishment, even many years of seclusion. But then everyone deserves to have a second chance. So do I." She wanted a new life dedicated to the education of young offenders, as she had been. This would have been her second chance.
Her story was incredibly connected to several members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, particularly during the last 3 years, and even before, when millions of young people in Italy and in the world participated in the mobilization to save her life, through their rallies and petitions.
Thanks as well to the personal intervention of the Pope John Paul II her death sentence was commuted into 60 years, then reduced to 30. We met Paula mainly through Bill Pelke (the founder of the Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation – MVFR and of the The Journey Of Hope), the grandson of Ruth, the victim, who had forgiven Paula and had fought against her execution. With Bill we had been waiting for many years to see Paula free, after 30 years of incarceration. The day that dream was finally realized was a fruit of the forgiveness and reconciliation Bill inherited from his grandmother who died holding a Bible in her hands.
In May 2013, just before her release, I visited her in prison. Our dream was to invite her to Rome for a meeting with the Pope and then we hoped she could give a strong message of hope to young people. In Indiana I realized that several people had just expressed the intention of killing her, simply as an act of revenge. Thanks to the intervention of the Catholic Church she was able to get out on the sly and without notice by journalists. Thanks to the bishops she found a job and a house. After a few months I went back to visit her in Indianapolis and seemed happy in her new life.
Her tragic death is an unexpected epilogue of a very tough life, marked from childhood by violence and poverty. Several times she had been spared from death and protected by the special Blessing of God who has never abandoned her. 

October 15 2016

Human rights activist asks Pope to discuss the death penalty with Lukashenka

Andrei Paluda, coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus", has sent a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to touch upon the issue of capital punishment during his meeting with President Lukashenka.
October 10 2016
October 10,14th World Day Against the Death Penalty

On the 14th world day against the death penalty a conference entitled "No Justice Without Life" will be held in Japan

July 2 2016
Address and the Final Ceremony by Mario Marazziti. Nobel Peace Prize Room, City Hall. June 23rd 2016

CITIES FOR LIFE – CITIES AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Oslo

by Mario Marazziti
June 25 2016

Pope Francis: “Death penalty is unacceptable”

Pope Francis addresses the authorities, the associations, the activists and the civil society gathered in Oslo on the occasion of the World Congress Against the Death Penalty through a video message.
June 21 2016
The 6th Congress Against the Death Penalty opens today in Oslo

The Community of Sant'Egidio takes part in the congress with delegations from Italy, Congo, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Indonesia

1500 attendants coming from over 80 countries. Among them, 20 ministers, 200 diplomats, members of different parliaments, scholars, lawyers, members of various associations and civil society actors
May 25 2016
"The laws are not perfect and judges cannot make mistakes. When you think that laws are perfect, this is the beginning of injustice", said Mgr. Suharyo

Church and civil society against new executions

Jakarta is among the 15 cities in Indonesia where in the past years the event "Cities for Life, Cities against the Death Penalty" was held, organized by Sant'Egidio in over two thousand municipalities in the five continents
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June 4 2016
The Washington Post

Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penalty
May 23 2016

Malaysian death row convict loses final appeal in Singapore
May 23 2016

Vescovo filippino: È presto per giudicare il contraddittorio Duterte. No alla pena di morte
May 14 2016

Pfizer blocca i farmaci per la pena di morte negli Usa
May 14 2016
La Stampa

Pena di morte, Pfizer blocca l’uso dei suoi farmaci per le iniezioni letali negli Usa
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