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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 27, 1996     The Message
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September 27, 1996

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0 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Se Cardinal Bernardin prays with death-row inmate before,exec , JOLIET, Ill. (CNS)-- Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago prayed and talked with death- row inmate Raymond Lee Stew- art Sept. 17,just hours before the convicted multiple murderer was executed at Stateville Correc- tional Center in Joliet. Stewart's lawyer, Joshua Sachs, said the condemned man had asked to see Cardinal Bernardin because he wanted to be with someone who was also facing death. The cardinal, who had surgery for pancreatic cancer last year, announced Aug. 30 that the can- cer has recurred in his liver and he has less than a year to live. On entering and leaving the prison Cardinal Bernardin elud- ed several dozen reporters wait- ing for him at the gate. Earlier, following a meeting with his archdiocesan priests' council in the Chicago suburb of River Forest, he told reporters he did not intend to let the death- row visit to become a "media event." He said he was going because "this man asked me, in a very personal way, to pray for him." "In a sense, he and I are in the same bt. He knows that he is going to die tonight and t know that I am going to die in the near future," he said. Later, back in Chicago, the cardinal said that during their meeting Stewart expressed sor- row for his crimes and asked God's forgiveness. "And then I gave him my blessing," he said. Stewart, 44, is not a Catholic and did not receive the church's last rites. Stewart faced death for a shooting spree in 1981 in which he killed six people within a week -- four in Rockford, Ill., and two in Beloit, Wis. In a letter to the families of the victims, Cardinal Bernardin expressed sorrow for the loss they suffered and said his visit with Stewart "in no way should be construed to excuse the horri- ii T F S Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Donald J. Traylor President Phone: 486-3285 I i u 2128 First Ave .............. 426-2311 5 N. 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Bring your own container for carryouts or we have containers at a nominal charge. ble crimes he committed." He also told the relatives, how- ever, that he remains opposed to use of the death penalty. "It is my belief that capital punishment feeds the cycle of violence instead of stopping it," he wrote. Stewart was executed by injec- tion at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 18. His last words to the 25 witnesses were: "Hello to everyone. May you all have peace because of this. May my victims' families have peace." Cardinal Bernardin's earlier meeting with his priests' council was the first since he learned he had liver cancer. He told the group that he planned to go to Rome the following week to visit with Pope John Paul II. "I am not going with a pre- planned agenda," he said, describing the purpose of the trip as primarily spiritual, not business. If the pope "brings up the question of succession, then we'll discuss it," he said. "Obviously I will be consulted" about the next archbishop of Chicago, he said. Shortly after the cardinal announced his pending Rome visit, Chicago archdiocesan com- munications director Robert A. Quakenbush Said in a memo to the media: "Cardinal Bernardin does not wish to be accompanied by or followed by reporters next week." He asked news to let the cardinal Rome on his own" and mit staff or resources to coverage. "As you well know," "Cardinal Bernardin has very accessible to the this instance, it is his hope that you will request." Wade Funeral Home 119 S. Vine Street, Haubstadt, IN 768-5210 Call about pre-need counseling. Robert J. Wade Alan J. 00/OUR F PHARMACV Please Su Stratman's Pharmacy City-Wide Delivery 413 Locust Street John and Judy Stratman 425-5293 PAUL'S PHARMACY Paul Mayer, Owner 2345 W. Franklin St. 425-4364 . Vincennes Bicknell Sandborn Monroe City AmBank Princeton ,,,, ^' o,." Patoka Member F.D.I.C. Oak Hill Pharmacy Prescription Specialists Hwy. 62 and N. 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