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April 10 2009

Rome: Coliseum to be Lit in Honor of New Mexico on Wednesday, April 15

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Ceremony to Honor New Mexico for Replacing Death Penalty with Life in Prison

SANTA FE, New Mexico – Governor Bill Richardson and Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe, are part of a New Mexico delegation that will be honored on Wednesday, April 15, at a special ceremony at the Roman Coliseum in Rome, Italy.

Sant’Egidio, a prominent international lay organization of the Catholic Church that promotes dialogue, peace and social justice, is hosting the ceremony to honor the New Mexico advocates, legislators and the Governor who successfully joined efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty.  The Coliseum, a prominent landmark of execution will be transformed into a beacon of hope to promote the worldwide repeal of the death penalty.

The New Mexico delegation will also be present for the Wednesday audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

The legislation to repeal the death penalty was sponsored New Mexico Rep.Gail Chasey.  Many organizations joined the efforts of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty.  Representing the State of New Mexico in Rome will be Governor Bill Richardson; Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe; Rep. Gail Chasey and husband, David Norvill; Allen Sánchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Bishops/ CEO St. Joseph Community Health and wife, Carolina Sanchez; Vicki Elky, Director of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty and husband, Thomas Elky; and Eric Witt, the Governor’s deputy chief of staff.

The practice of lighting the Coliseum was begun by Sant’Egidio in 2002 when the International Day Cities for Life-Cities against the Death Penalty was launched every year on the anniversary of the first abolition of the death penalty in the world by a state, the Granduchy of Tuscaniy on Nov. 30, 1786. A special lighting of the Coliseum decided by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the City of Rome, took place in December 2007 when the General Assembly of the United Nations called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty as a first step toward abolition.


source: Press Release from the Office of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

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