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Pope Meets Widow Of Executed US Murderer July 30, 1997

VATICAN CITY (CWN) - Pope John Paul on Wednesday met with the American widow of a convicted murderer executed last week in Virginia, offering words of comfort to the woman who married Joseph O'Dell on the day of his execution.

The Holy Father had been joined by the president and prime minister of Italy along with thousands of ordinary Italians in calling for a stay of execution for the man convicted of murdering a secretary in 1985. The Italian people generally vocally oppose capital punishment throughout the world, and O'Dell's case gained more notoriety over questions of new evidence that the US Supreme Court did not allow to be heard.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that at the end of the Holy Father's weekly audience, he spoke briefly with Lori Urs, who had arrived in Italy today along with O'Dell's body which is to be buried in Palermo, Sicily. Urs was accompanied by Sister Helen Prejean who wrote the book on which the movie "Dead Man Walking" was based.

"The Pope was very supportive to Lori Urs-O'Dell and said how he had prayed for Joseph," Prejean said after the meeting. Before his death, O'Dell asked to be buried in Palermo because of that city's support for his cause.