Papal Opposition to Death Penalty Continues with Benedict XVI

As part of Crisis’ symposium on capital punishment, we reprint the following news reports. Other contributions this issue include this column by Abp. Charles Chaput, and this essay by Christopher Ferrara of The Latin Mass Magazine.


ROME, OCT. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org). The director of the Vatican press office says he is against recourse to the death penalty, and wants capital punishment for no one anywhere in the world.

 

This was the affirmation made by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, as he offered his personal reflection on the Church’s opposition to current recourse to capital punishment.

“I don’t want it in China, or in Iran, or in the United States, or in India, or in Indonesia or in Saudi Arabia — nowhere in the world,” he asserted during the most recent episode of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.”

“I don’t want it by stoning, or by shooting, or by decapitation, or by hanging, or by the electric chair, or by lethal injection,” he continued. “I don’t want it painful or painless. I don’t want it in public or in secret.

“I don’t want it for women, or for men; for the handicapped or for the healthy. I don’t want it for civilians or military men, I don’t want it in peace or in war. I don’t want it for someone who might be innocent, but I don’t want it for confessed criminals either. I don’t want it for homosexuals. I don’t want it for adulterers. I don’t want it for anyone.”

“I don’t even want it for murderers, for the Mafiosi, for traitors or for tyrants,” Father Lombardi added. “I don’t want it out of vengeance, or to free ourselves from troublesome and expensive prisoners, not even for alleged mercy.”

“Because,” he said, “I seek a greater justice. And it is good to walk on this path to increasingly affirm, in favor of everyone, the dignity of the person and of human life, of which we are not the ones to dispose.”

The Vatican spokesman referenced the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying that cases in which the death penalty is the only means to protect human lives and public order are practically non-existent.

“Let us make [the cases] non-existent,” he said. “It’s better.”

 

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2011 (Zenit.org). – Benedict XVI today addressed a group of people working to the end the death penalty, expressing his hopes that their efforts will succeed.

At the end of the general audience, the Pope spoke in English to delegations from a number of countries participating in a meeting being promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community on the theme “No Justice without Life.”

He said: “I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

He then turned to greet students of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, and a delegation from the French Diocese of Belley-Ars accompanied by Bishop Guy Bagnard, who have come to Rome with a portrait of St. John Mary Vianney for the Vatican Basilica in commemoration of the Year for Priests. “Following the example of St. John Mary Vianney,” he told them, “let us rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives.”

The Holy Father also welcomed nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Charity who, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Bosnia Herzegovina, have come to Rome on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the recent beatification in Sarajevo of five members of their order martyred during World War II. “Grateful for their witness, let us pray to God to give us the courage to persevere in our service,” the Pope said.

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