VATICAN CITY (AP) – Vienna's cardinal said on Monday that he is in touch with a man condemned to die in Texas this week, and that Pope Francis is following the case, too.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn told reporters at the Vatican that he has been in close touch with Richard Masterson, who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday. He didn't elaborate on what kind of contact they had.
Masterson was convicted of strangling a female impersonator in Houston in 2001.
Attorneys for Masterson have contended his earlier lawyers were deficient and that his confession about the death of Darin Shane Honeycutt, who went by the stage name of Brandi Houston, was improper. Appeals have also argued that Masterson is innocent of the killing and that medical examiner testimony about the victim's death was misleading.
The cardinal mentioned the case while speaking at the Vatican about church initiatives to promote mercy, a quality Francis has been stressing.
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"Richard has been waiting 12 years for his execution," Cardinal Schoenborn said. "It is frightening."
He said that the pope has been informed about Masterson and is following the situation.
During his papacy, Francis has reinforced earlier Vatican teaching that capital punishment cannot be justified.
The cardinal noted that a group of Christians has been following the case. Their attention to Masterson and his family "is the witness of the closeness of Jesus to this man, who thus has the sweet experience of the merciful heart of Jesus," the cardinal said.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Masterson's appeal. An appeals court late last week rejected appeals for Masterson.