Skip to comments.‘I’m not your judge’ – Priest urged bomber McVeigh to submit to God
Posted on 08/16/2006 8:23:55 PM PDT by siunevada
ATLANTA, Ga. (CNS) When he ministered to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Divine Word Father Charles Smith found that his faith, instilled in him by loving parents despite the childhood pain of discrimination, enabled him to be Christ's representative even as the inmate verbally assaulted him.
"When I first came in (to see him) I thought 'God is the owner of my life,' and I went to him and he threw his feces on me and called me all types of names and said, 'You can't be a priest because I've never seen a you-know-what as a priest,'" Father Smith said Aug. 5. "The devil was messin' with me."
He made the comments in a workshop he led during the 2006 Interregional African-American Catholic Evangelization Conference, which was held Aug. 4-6 in Atlanta.
Other priests and Southern Baptist ministers had previously worked -- unsuccessfully -- with the man found guilty of bombing the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 and murdering the 168 people who died from the blast.
But Father Smith persevered in his ministry to McVeigh and the convicted murderer, who was a baptized Catholic, began to repent. "He did a lot of things, but in the end we had confession, reconciliation. In the end he asked me a question a lot of people ask me. He asked, 'Father Charles, can I still get to heaven?'"
The priest said he responded, "I am not your judge," but reminded McVeigh that he had told him, "You must submit your will and ask God for true forgiveness. ... You knew there were a lot of innocent people and children in that building."
McVeigh asked Father Smith to walk with him to his June 11, 2001, execution. "And the tears came running down. He was crying, I was crying because he did something that changed my life, too.
"As a man it's hard to ask but for him to ask for God's love and God's grace, that did something to me," he recalled, reflecting on how God's grace can transform even the worst evil.
As he walked with McVeigh, Father Smith remembered how, when he was a child, a porter in an Illinois train told his light-skinned parents that he couldn't serve their "wicked children," who had darker skin, and how Mississippi restaurants refused to serve them.
"I remember my mom and dad say, 'Just be patient. God is going to make a way. God is going to change you. God is going to rise, and you're going to be raised up. Your life will be redeemed and your people (will be).' ... I remembered all of that, being with Timothy McVeigh."
Father Smith and his brother, Divine Word Father Chester Smith, were the first black Catholic twins to be ordained priests. Both priests are in residence at St. Rita's Parish in Indianapolis.
In his workshop presentation, Father Charles Smith encouraged people to speak the truth in love and humility, never pressuring anyone to join the church and avoiding a superior attitude to anyone.
"I know if God can call two little black boys from the South Side of Chicago to live 16-17 years in an international religious order, to go around the world and to come back home to be with his people to teach and to preach and be free in the Spirit, I have nothing to fear," he said. "I'm not worried about what any man says. And my eyes are on the sparrow. God is with me, and I know God is with you and we shall be free forevermore."
He encouraged his audience to be bold but gentle as they speak up for what they believe is right, even if it's controversial. But "don't be afraid to use prophetic dialogue ... in teaching us how to live, ... in ministry, catechism, Bible study. Use what is there to speak the truth."
He prescribed for them "old-school spirituality" of morning, noon and evening private prayer, recalling how, when he was told as a youth that he couldn't learn and shouldn't go to college, his grandmother would say, "Child, you just pray and God will make a way." He went on to graduate from college as valedictorian.
"You are a child of God. If you give your all to God he'll give his all to you so we've got to be people of prayer," he said. "Pray for God's perfect timing in your life. He's going to give you the revelation that you need."
Father Charles Smith encouraged people to speak the truth in love and humility, never pressuring anyone to join the church and avoiding a superior attitude to anyone.
Thank you, Father.
Wasn't Timothy McVeigh a Mason?
"Wasn't Timothy McVeigh a Mason?"
When I searched this is the first site that came up:
Looks like a super-duper double secret Mason.
Doubly chilling when one remembers McVeigh's last words - William Ernest Henley's poem "Invictus" (Latin for "Undefeated"). Here's how it ends:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
Pardon me but I hope McVeigh was fried to a crisp for taking all those innocent lives. I do not believe any one man from any faith can forgive him for what he did to those innocent people including young children and babies.
Too bad Timmy could only be executed once.
Neither does the Catholic church. Forgivness is from God.
Neither does the Catholic church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1441 Only God forgives sins.
Fr. Smith seems to understand what the Church teaches, "You must submit your will and ask God for true forgiveness."
I think this story gives strong support for the death penalty. Would he have repented if he was going to be in prison for life, or was his repenting the result of facing death and being forced to contemplate the Four Last Things?
No. He was an islamist. Phooey on this busisness.
Not the words of a penitent man. This priest was manipulated by McVeigh, or he is engaging in wishful thinking.
Now I'm starting to wonder. I searched 'mcveigh's last words' and this comment and AP story was posted on one site. No mention of Fr. Smith.
Below is a story published by The Associated Press the day after McVeigh's execution on Monday, June 11, 2001. Most Americans were probably well-versed on McVeigh's defiant attitude and profession of agnosticism in the weeks preceding his execution. I will let the following article speak for itself. We won't know until we enter eternity ourselves whether McVeigh did indeed accept Christ. But the point I've made before--and that I will make again and again until it is grasped--is that anything is possible with Christ (Phil. 4:13). Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.
By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh left one final mystery behind before his execution: Did he ask forgiveness for his sins while meeting a priest in private, even while refusing to express public remorse?
McVeigh was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and saw a priest in the final hours before he received a lethal injection Monday. There could hardly be a greater contrast between the words he issued upon his death and those of Roman Catholicism's so-called "last rites."
Rather than uttering last words, McVeigh released a handwritten copy of the poem "Invictus" with its defiant conclusion: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."
But Monday morning about 4 a.m., before being taken to the death chamber at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., the prison warden noted that a Catholic chaplain was available if McVeigh wanted last rites. According to his attorneys, McVeigh said "Sure, send him in."
The chaplain, the Rev. Frank Roof, then met with McVeigh. Roof is declining media interview requests, the prison said Tuesday. The Indianapolis archdiocese issued no statement and referred all questions to the prison.
The Rev. Ron Ashmore, a priest who knew McVeigh and whose parish is near the prison, said it's his understanding following talks with a McVeigh attorney that McVeigh received the sacrament of anointing the sick but not the sacrament of penance. The McVeigh attorneys were not at their offices Tuesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.
Penance, also known as the sacrament of reconciliation, is the normal means through which Catholics ask God's forgiveness for their sins. However, forgiveness is also possible outside of penance under certain circumstances.
Both penance and anointing are involved in what Catholics commonly call the "last rites," though the church does not officially use that term and considers it confusing.
To Ashmore "the very request" for anointing "is a request for the Lord's mercy and forgiveness."
Ashmore, who exchanged letters with McVeigh in recent weeks, said the man who killed 168 people in the bombing six years ago "had reconciled himself to God and was beginning to express his sensitivity to the pain and suffering of the people of Oklahoma."
"He was remorseful for the death and the pain, but not for going to war against the United States," Ashmore said.
In Ashmore's understanding, the sacrament of anointing would absolve the recipient of his sins.
In anointing, normally given to seriously ill patients or those at the point of death, the priest places oil on the recipient's forehead and hands, saying "May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."
Associated Press Writer Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis contributed to this story.
The last time I checked, McVeigh was white, incarcerated, and living in rural Oklahoma before his arrest at age 27 (and in his thirties when executed).
I skimmed it really quickly. I don't see a time sequence or physical location problem.
Ordained in 1988. Three years later (1991) at St. Rita's in Indianapolis.
McVeigh executed at Terre Haute, IN in 2001.
He said, "Only God can be your judge." He just led him to repentence. Repentence does not mean you are not guilty, just sorry.
Thank you. You said it better than I did. I always considered the priest someone to confide in, which can be awfully handy at times, but that the forgiveness was from God.
It is my understanding that McVeigh did receive the sacrament of penance before his death. I read somewhere that Father Roof confirmed this, but that was the only thing he ever said. He has never spoken in public about it, as most priests should not. I wish I could remember where I read that, unfortunately I cannot.
Let's not forget the first verse either -
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
I would not read into that any kind of contrition, or plea for heavenly mercy.
You need to re-read the article, beginning with the headline. We should always hope for everyon's salvation, and never desire that a soul be lost.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
As a side note, this is interesting:
The inspiration for Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Henley was a 19th-century British editor and poet known for his red beard, unkempt hair and unkempt manner.
What Timothy McVeigh did was the most extreme offense against God, and it is true that no mere man can forgive what has offended God Himself.
But Jesus is the man who is God, the God who is man; and where there is repentance and a broken, contrite heart, He can forgive.
You (and I) have no idea how much greater God is than anything we can conceive. I truly hope that McVeigh truly repented, even if it means he has to be in Purgatory until the end of the world. I will pray for him.
My sins alone were enough to put Christ on the cross...
I live here in Oklahoma and saw the result of his heinous act. I am a Christian and if it makes me less of one then so be it, but I will NEVER pray for that man's soul. He has NO soul IMHO with the way he taunted families of the victims until the very end. Families did not deserve his comments and he never said he was sorry for the deaths of those children including babies. I have nothing for the man and less than that.
You make yourself his judge. I'm glad you won't be judging me upon my death. Surely you will want mercy when your time comes.
It gives even stronger support for rigorous faith formation in the young. McVeigh was baptized Catholic. Where did we Catholics go wrong, that one of our own should stray so far?
I think the priest put it very well. He told McVeigh that forgiveness comes only through true repentence with God, and that he was not McVeigh's judge, the implication being that God alone was.
Don't forget also that the Catholic Church maintains the belief in purgatory. McVeigh can ultimately have been saved, although his quote from Invictus seems like he was not; nonetheless, he will suffer for his crimes. God forgives the eternal soul; just as his forgiveness does not resurrect in this world the dead, nor does it spare McVeigh purgatory.
Your hardness is understandable. What happened was horrific. The challenge to all of us is the mystery of the Cross: repentence, and forgiveness; this is difficult. V's wife.
Lucifer was the highest and most intelligent angel once, look how he turned out.
When Catholics go bad, they seem to go really bad.
Corruptio optimi pessima est.
Lucifer was Catholic?
And a terror bomber by any other name would be an islamist in doing their murder.
That wasn't really what I was implying by that analogy, no. Is that what you thought my point was?
"It's a joke, son!"
Did you ever consider that the AP story could be wrong?
The AP does have a liberal bias often times.
McVeigh and Terry Nichols went to the PhilipenesGonna need a cite that McVeigh went to the Phillipines ... we know Nichols did.
I looked at it several times after I posted it and it's a long way from being a minute-by-minute account of everything that happened. I guess now I think it doesn't mention him but it also doesn't cover everything that happened, either.
Chilling all right. "I did it, myyyy way."
Excuse me....but, this Priest is not manipulated in any way, shape, or form. Nor does he have “wishful thinking”. He is a man of God, He is a man to speak his truth, and is a humble man. I know him personally, as you don’t. You are not on earth to judge, so do not judge my friend Father Charles Smith, and “Shame on You”!!!