Oklahoma Bomber Confessed to Catholic Priest

The priest who heard the last confession of the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh has said that meeting the terrorist responsible for killing 168 people strengthened his own faith.

The Universe Catholic Newspaper/August 18, 2006

Speaking at a workshop during the 2006 Interregional African-American Catholic Evangelization Conference, earlier in the month, Fr Charles Smith, a Divine Word priest, said that initially McVeigh proved hostile to the priest, making comments about him being black. But, he added that the more he persevered with his ministry the more McVeigh began to repent for his actions.

"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 faeces 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,'" said Fr Smith.

"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."

Fr Smith accompanied McVeigh to his execution on June 11, 2001, and said that the event changed his own life.

"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."

As he walked with McVeigh, Fr Smith said he remembered how, when he was a child, a porter 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."

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