Photo: Intelligence Squared US

Pope Francis urged Catholic politicians to end executions or death penalty, saying it’s an offense to life, contradicts God’s planand serves no purpose for punishment.

“Nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person,” Francis said in his recent message to the Sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Oslo.

The Pope pointed out that capital punishment “is an offence 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.”

He also declared the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty. Francis appealed to Catholic leaders all over the world to be brave enough to find an end to executions during the Church’s present Holy Year that will end in November.

He also asked them to make a global agreement to eradicate death penalty, which has been allowed by the Catholic Church for centuries.

Francis has gone beyond his predecessors and traditional Catholic teaching in saying there is simply no justification for the death penalty today. He said that rather than rendering justice, it fosters vengeance. Church teaching allows for recourse to capital punishment when it is the only way to defend lives “effectively” against an aggressor.

“It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs
to the criminal,” Francis said. The need to sustain the move in abolishing the death penalty in some countries was also discussed in the World Congress in Oslo.

Currently, 140 nations have abolished the death penalty, as compared to only 16 countries in 1977.

The Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Madagascar, Mongolia and Suriname recently abolished capital punishment.

The death penalty is common in Asia and the Middle East, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran accountable for 89 percent of recorded executions last year. This does not include China, where legitimate figures on its use are considered a state secret.

The five biggest executioners in the world are China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced his plan to bring back the death penalty which was abolished in 1987 during the time of President Corazon Aquino but was revived in 1993 under President Fidel Ramos.

Duterte pointed out that bringing back death penalty would serve would serve as “retribution” for those who committed crimes.

“The death penalty might be a deterrence to commit a crime but that is one school of thought. Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did,” he said.

Murder, rape, kidnapping and drug trafficking are crimes punishable by death. (PCH)

“ALL CHRISTIANS AND MEN OF
GOOD WILL ARE CALLED TODAY TO
FIGHT NOT ONLY FOR THE ABOLITION
OF THE DEATH PENALTY, WHETHER
LEGAL OR ILLEGAL, AND IN ALL ITS
FORMS, BUT ALSO IN ORDER TO
IMPROVE THE PRISON CONDITIONS,
IN RESPECT OF THE HUMAN DIGNITY
OF THE PERSONS DEPRIVED OF
FREEDOM.”

– POPE FRANCIS

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