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Papal support for drive to end the death penalty worldwide

June 22, 2016

Pope Francis has sent a strong message of support to the Sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which is being held in Oslo, Norway this week.

In his video message, the Pope argues that "nowadays the death penalty in unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person." He goes on:

It is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is an ideal time for a campaign against capital punishment, the Pope says. He suggests that the campaign should extend beyond abolition of the death penalty, and also embrace reform to improve conditions in prisons. 

"There is no fitting punishment without hope," the Poep argues. "Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not punishment."


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 23, 2016 1:18 AM ET USA

    Many misstate the 5th Commandment: "Thou shalt not commit murder." Killing in war, killing in self-defense, killing in defense of neighbor have all been acts of mercy sanctioned, if not generally promoted, by the Church. Defensive mortal acts are not only valid, but serve as the basis for examples of the principle of "double effect." Is it merciful to allow a murderer to continue to murder in prison or by orders to someone outside prison to murder the innocent? Capital punishment should be rare.