SOCIAL JUSTICE – rcsocialjustice.org
By Marcia Tinto, Member, CCSJ Management Committee
Trinidad and Tobago is the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean that retains the mandatory death penalty.
Based on a survey conducted by the World Population Review in 2022, Trinidad and Tobago is also ranked sixth (71.63 per cent) among countries in the world with the highest crime rate.
In his prayer intention for September, Pope Francis called on us “to mobilise for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world”. The Holy Father maintains that the death penalty is not necessary “from a legal point of view … society can effectively repress crime without definitively depriving offenders of the possibility to redeem themselves. There must be a window of hope in every legal sentence.”
Pope Francis emphasised that capital punishment “offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice.”
The Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL) – an independent, not-for-profit, civil society organisation – is a regional entity in the Greater Caribbean which is devoted to working on the abolition of the death penalty.
GCL condemns the rise of violent crime and expresses solidarity with victims but has made it clear that capital punishment does not act as a deterrent to crime, nor does it promote greater respect for life in our communities.
Sister Helen Prejean CSJ, a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, was the guest speaker at the GCL’s General Assembly held recently.
Sr Helen is known for her best-selling book, Dead Man Walking, based on her experiences with two men who were sentenced to death in the USA and who were on death row. Sr Helen works tirelessly against the death penalty and runs an organisation, Ministry Against the Death Penalty, from New Orleans.
At the General Assembly, she addressed participants on the topic: ‘Killing in the name of justice cannot be justice: the Death Penalty doesn’t save lives or build community.’
According to Sr Helen, pro-life Catholics use the Crucifixion to uphold the death penalty. They argue that if the Romans did not execute Jesus, we would not have been absolved of our sins. In other words, death is actually considered the blessing by which we are saved.
The consciousness of our Catholic Church needs to be reminded that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”, as outlined in Article 3 of Amnesty International’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She reminded us that: “Every human being is worth more than the worst thing they’ve ever done. All life has dignity – guilty life too.”
Leela Ramdeen, Chair of GCL, and Consultant to CCSJ/AMMR, reminded participants in the General Assembly that in August 2018, Pope Francis approved a new text, 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Inter alia, it states that “in the light of the Gospel…the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person’, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
The 19th World Day against the Death Penalty will be observed globally on October 10. The theme this year is: The Death Penalty: A Road Paved with Torture.
On Saturday, October 8, GCL will be holding an online seminar at 11:00 AST. You are invited to register for the webinar by visiting www.facebook.com/GCFLife/
Let us not meet evil with evil but find non-lethal ways of making offenders accountable to society.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by the society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country. They may be citizens with full rights, yet they are treated like foreigners in their own country. Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.” (97)
– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti.
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee