In a letter, pope asks Bush to spare McVeigh

Saturday, April 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Crawford, Texas-AP) -- The White House is politely rejecting a request by Pope John Paul to spare the life of Timothy McVeigh.

The man condemned in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people is scheduled to be executed May 16th in a federal prison in Indiana.

The pope has sent the president a letter requesting clemency for McVeigh.

Legal scholars say the president probably couldn't intervene even if he wanted to because of the way the federal death-penalty law is written. The White House points out McVeigh himself has not asked for clemency.

A spokeswoman for the president in Texas says Bush believes McVeigh has been treated fairly. She says he has great respect for the pope, but also has compassion and sympathy for McVeigh's victims.

John Paul regularly asks for clemency for death row inmates whose time is running out. In speeches, he has made several pronouncements against the death penalty.