Need your help to save a man's life

Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo, who runs the Cherish Life Circle, is asking for your help – not for herself but for a young man with mental illness who faces execution in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. At this point there appears little that can be done to save this man’s life – short of an action by President Obama.

I share with you a letter D’Arienzo wrote to the president. She asks that others consider taking a similar action. I encourage you to do so. Here is what D'Arienzo wrote.

Sisters of Mercy
72-25 68th Street
Glendale, NY 11385-7216

January 7, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Jeffrey Paul, #10517-042, has been named the first inmate to face execution in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The order to kill him must come from you and you are far too good a human being to take this young man’s life.

I have known Mr. Paul since October 27, 2000 when he was confirmed in the Catholic faith, along with an inmate for whom I serve as spiritual advisor. The presiding cleric was Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis (shown in the photo below is Sr. Rita Clare Gerar-dot, a Sister of Providence). Paul, who was then 24, has been convicted of the murder of a retired National Park Service employee in 1995. As horrendous as is the taking of any life, this man’s crime does not compare with that of mass murderers and child molesters. The word on the row is that you must execute a white man before the next slated five, who are African-American. This, of course, is morally appalling.

For years I have followed Paul’s descent into mental illness. He no longer recognizes his par-ents as his own. His hallucinations and ravings are of grave concern to the inmates who re-member him before this decline.

I could advance many arguments, based on theology, philosophy and sociology; however, my preferred guidelines come from The Audacity of Hope in which you debunk the deterrent effect of the death penalty. Please, Mr. President, do not give us reason to despair.

Sincerely yours,

Sister Camille D’Arienzo
For The Cherish Life Circle

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here