Catholic World News

Pope renews call for abolition of death penalty

February 22, 2016

Stating that “even a criminal has the inviolable right to life,” Pope Francis said that “all Christians and men and women of good will are called today to work for the abolition of the death penalty.”

Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on February 21 that “an increasing strong opposition to the death penalty, even as an instrument of legitimate social defense, has developed in public opinion, and this is a sign of hope.”

“In fact, modern societies have the ability to effectively control crime without definitively removing from the criminal the possibility of redeeming himself,” he continued, adding that “the command ‘thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and refers to the guilty as well as the innocent.”

The Pope asked Catholic political leaders to “carry out a gesture of courage, giving an example: that the death penalty not be applied in this Holy Year of Mercy.”


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  • Posted by: loumiamo - Feb. 23, 2016 11:15 AM ET USA

    The ONLY way to demonstrate that ALL human life is sacred is to impose death on anyone convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder. Protecting society from further murders is irrelevant. A thief must make restitution for his crime, how can we say a murderer must not? We can only say that if we also say that NOT ALL human life is sacred, and that would violate Scripture. It's interesting that after all the crucifixions Jesus must have seen in his 33 years, He never opined against the death penalty.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 23, 2016 6:41 AM ET USA

    In what universe do prelates live where "modern societies have the ability to effectively control crime"? I guess the answer to that question depends on the definition of "effective" control. To those who are not victims of a violent crime, society's control may seem effective. But to how many crimes are all of us subjected to daily, crimes of government officials, crimes of corporate strategists, crimes of crooked law enforcement officers, crimes of diverse character? Effective control?

  • Posted by: presbergc3900 - Feb. 22, 2016 9:23 PM ET USA

    More careless language from the pope, saying that "thou shalt not kill" has an "absolute value" for guilty and innocent alike.Oppose the death penalty. But the right to life is fundamental, not absolute. I forfeit my right to life if I show murderous aggression and, in that case, you can stop me with deadly force.If my right were absolute, you would have to let me kill you. And, to state the obvious (missed by the pope,) executing Ted Bundy is not the same as Bundy's murdering a young woman.

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 22, 2016 9:08 PM ET USA

    Since the command ‘thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value, the abolition of abortion would be of first importance.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Feb. 22, 2016 7:40 PM ET USA

    The news lately has shown that murderous criminals in Mexico and the US are able to escape from even High Security penal institutions and attempt to continue in their murderous ways. Is Pope Francis willing to start confining them in the Vatican's jail and risk their citizens' lives.

  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 22, 2016 6:10 PM ET USA

    The death penalty has become an act of revenge by modern society, not an act to protect society. Life imprisonment without parole affords society equal protection and costs society less than the death penalty, as many studies have proven, yet demands for the death penalty persist. But, I have yet to hear a homily at Mass or any other teaching by the U.S. Church that calls for the end of the death penalty, but there is ample time for fundraising and social event announcements.

  • Posted by: John3822 - Feb. 22, 2016 5:43 PM ET USA

    Nobody executes prisoners because they are afraid they will escape from jail. So using the theoretical possibility of an escape does not seem right.

  • Posted by: the.dymeks9646 - Feb. 22, 2016 10:33 AM ET USA

    So I guess modern society's control of crime has reached a point where no criminals escape nor commit murder in prison?