Pope Francis has repeated his call for an end to the death penalty, arguing that “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity – God Himself guarantees it”.
– “Recognize the inalienable dignity of every human being”
“Let us keep in mind that not even a murderer loses his personal dignity – God Himself guarantees it (see EV 9). The firm rejection of the death penalty shows to what extent it is possible to recognize the inalienable dignity of every human being. #FratelliTutti #NoDeathPenalty“, the Pope wrote on Twitter.
Francis’ message was a quote from his October 3 encyclical on fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli tutti, where he wrote that both war and capital punishment are “extreme situations that may come to be seen as solutions in especially dramatic circumstances, without realizing that they are false answers that do not resolve the problems they are meant to solve and ultimately do no more than introduce new elements of destruction in the fabric of national and global society” (FT, 255).
In his encyclical, Francis recalled that “Saint John Paul II stated clearly and firmly that the death penalty is inadequate from a moral standpoint and no longer necessary from that of penal justice” (FT, 263-70).
“There can be no stepping back from this position”, Francis continued, restating his 2018 change to the catechism to the effect that since “the death penalty is inadmissible” the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide”.
While not doubting that authorities have the right to punish criminals, the Pope warned that “fear and resentment can easily lead to viewing punishment in a vindictive and even cruel way, rather than as part of a process of healing and reintegration into society”.
Not only that, but even the most hardened of criminals have “a place in this universe”, the Pope stressed, insisting that Jesus’ appeal against violence in the Garden of Gethsemane (“All who take the sword will perish by the sword”, Mt 26:52) “bridges the gap of the centuries and reaches the present as an enduring appeal”.
– Monuments in 2,300 cities light up in Sant’Egidio campaign to stop “highly inhuman and useless” capital punishment that “reduces states to mere perpetrators of injustice”
For its part, the Community of Sant’Egidio explained that its Cities for Life 2020 vigil and #Stand4Humanity webinar from 5.30pm to 7pm GMT+1 tonight was taking place on the 234th anniversary of the first ban on the death penalty to come into effect anywhere in the world, in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in Italy on November 30, 1786.
Since that 18th-century moratorium in Tuscany, “a great deal of progress has been made on the road to the abolition of capital punishment in the world”, Sant’Egidio affirmed.
“But so much can and must be done against this highly inhuman and useless instrument, since it does not act as a deterrent and reduces states to mere perpetrators of injustice”, the Community stressed.
Sant’Egidio said that after its #NoDeathPenalty webinar the Colosseum in Rome would light up along with monuments in some 2,300 cities worldwide to turn them into “living logos” of “the people’s commitment for a world without the death penalty”.
The demonstration tonight against state-enforced executions “is a major world mobilization so people do not forget that several countries still keep this cruel and inhumane punishment”, Sant’Egidio explained, adding that participants were aiming “to show there is a higher and more civilized justice capable of abandoning capital punishment once and for all”.