The death penalty is an inhumane form of punishment that ignores the primacy of mercy in the name of justice, Pope Francis said yesterday. Source: Crux.
Meeting a delegation from the International Commission against the Death Penalty the Pope set aside his prepared remarks and spoke off the cuff, the Vatican said.
In his prepared text, which was handed to the delegation, the Pope said his recent revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching against capital punishment was an important step in recognising that the death penalty was “a consequence of a mentality of the time – more legalistic than Christian – that sanctified the value of laws lacking in humanity and mercy.”
“The Church could not remain in a neutral position in the face of today’s demands to reaffirm personal dignity,” the Pope said.
Francis ordered a revision of the catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, in August to assert that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the Church to working toward its abolition worldwide.
The development of the Church’s teaching, he said, is consistent with “defending the dignity of human life” and is a step that all countries should follow.
“As has happened in the heart of the Church, a similar commitment must be made by all nations,” the Pope said. “The sovereign right of all countries to define their legal system cannot be exercised in contradiction with their obligations under international law, nor can it represent an obstacle to the universal recognition of human dignity.”
Countries that have not abolished capital punishment but have adopted a moratorium on executions also should ban the death penalty as a possible punishment for crime, Pope Francis said.
A temporary moratorium, he said, “cannot be lived by the condemned person as a mere prolongation of the waiting period for his or her execution.”
He also implored countries that continue executing prisoners to adopt a moratorium with the goal of abolishing “this cruel form of punishment.”