Benedict XVI Praying for 3 Condemned to Death

Bishop in Indonesia Visits Trio as Special Vatican Envoy

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PALU, Indonesia, MARCH 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- An Indonesia bishop relayed a message of support from Benedict XVI to three prisoners condemned to death after a controversial trial that many observers said was unjust.



Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manado told the Catholic inmates that the Pope sent his blessing to them.

The Pontiff, through the bishop, invited the convicts to pray the rosary together with him, so that they might bear their burden.

Bishop Suwatan met Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu in prison on Sunday. The three men have been condemned to death for the massacre of Muslims during interreligious clashes in Poso in 2000.

The bishop said he had undertaken the visit to the Palu prison in the capacity of "special Vatican envoy."

He said Benedict XVI wanted to share the men's pain and to express his solidarity for the legal injustice suffered by the three during their trial, according to AsiaNews. Many Indonesians claim that the trial was controversial. Its proceedings were marred by large-scale intimidation by Islamic fundamentalists.

Bishop Suwatan gave Tibo and his companions a cross and rosary beads. Tibo said he was strongly moved by the considerable interest shown by the Vatican in their case. "This helps us to have courage in facing the death penalty," he said.

A lawyers' group recently appealed to the Supreme Court to review the case on the basis of new witnesses who would clear the three men.

Between 2000 and 2001, more than 1,000 people died in clashes between Christians and Muslims in Poso. No Muslims have been tried for their part in the clashes as yet.