Pope Francis has dedicated his prayer video for September, to address the death penalty and call for its abolition worldwide. The Holy Father invited Catholic faithful to pray “that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.”
He said in the video, “Each day, there is a growing ‘NO’ to the death penalty around the world. For the Church, this is a sign of hope. From a legal point of view, it is not necessary. Society can effectively repress crime without definitively depriving the offenders of the possibility of redeeming themselves. Always, in every legal sentence, there must be a window of hope. Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice.”
He continued saying, “Additionally, the death penalty is morally inadmissible, for it destroys the most important gift we have received: life. Let us not forget that, up to the very last moment, a person can convert and change. And in the light of the Gospel, the death penalty is unacceptable. The commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, refers to both the innocent and the guilty.
“I, therefore, call on all people of goodwill to mobilise for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world.”
Leela Ramdeen, Chair of the Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL), a regional independent, not-for-profit civil society organisation that is devoted to working towards the abolition of the death penalty in the Greater Caribbean and globally, told Catholic News via email that “While GCL condemns the rise of violent crime in our region and expresses solidarity with victims, we reject the notion that capital punishment will act as a deterrent to crime. It does not address the root causes of crime; nor does it contribute to the development of peaceful, just societies. It simply adds to the cycle of violence that threatens to overwhelm us in the region. We will continue to call for non-lethal solutions to crime.”
She ended, “On 10 October 2022, the 20th World Day against the Death Penalty will be dedicated to reflecting on the relationship between the use of the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. Let us all commit ourselves to promote peace, respect for life, and good neighbourliness as appropriate methods of reducing crime.”
The Independent Catholic News website reports that according to Amnesty International, there are currently at least 28,670 people on death row worldwide. “That number is likely much greater because many countries do not properly report statistics” the report stated.
Countries that still have death penalty laws on the books include China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Trinidad & Tobago. —RS
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