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Japanese Church fights against legal executions

Catholic World News - March 29, 2012

Japanese Catholic bishops are urging their nation’s government to abolish the death penalty, in the aftermath of the first legal executions since 2010.

After the hanging of three prisoners who had been convicted of multiple murders, Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki said that the Japanese bishops are wholly united in their opposition to capital punishment. “Even if the person who is killed is a murderer, his death is another murder—by the state this time,” he argued. (The archbishop’s argument goes well beyond the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which allows that the state has the right to punish criminals, even with the death penalty, although it says that there is rarely if ever a just cause to invoke that penalty.)

Japanese government officials note that 80% of the population approves of capital punishment. But Archbishop Takami responds that this reflects “society’s blind spot” and warns that this attitude “could harden the soul.”

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