Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In today's world the death penalty "is unacceptable, however serious the crime of the offender" as it "does not do justice to the victims, but encourages revenge". Moreover it "represents a defeat" for "rule of law", because it forces people to kill in the name of justice". Pope Francis once again clearly reiterated the Church's stance against the death penalty, terming it as an "offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God's plan for man and society."
Pope Francis, who in the past had spoken out against the death penalty, this time put his remarks in writing, contained in a letter delivered to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, Federico Mayor, received this morning along with a Commission delegation.
In the document, the Pope also expresses appreciation for the Commission's efforts towards a "universal moratorium" on executions, "in view of the abolition of capital punishment".
Francis also returns to repeat that "life imprisonment, as well as all sentences that for their durability make it impossible for the convicted to plan a future, can be considered a hidden death penalty", because not only do they deprive the person of his or her liberty but also of hope. Francis had previously spoken of life imprisonment as a "hidden death penalty", in October 23, 2014, meeting with an association of international criminal lawyers. On that occasion, he remembered that "already John Paul II condemned the death penalty", in his letter he adds that, "all Christians and people of good will are therefore today called to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, legal or illegal, in all of its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, that respect the human dignity of persons deprived of liberty".
The Pope continued, States "can kill" with war, with criminal law or outside the law, but "life, especially that of humans, belongs only to God. Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity and God Himself is the guarantor". "God does not punish Cain with death, because he wants the repentance of the sinner, not his death."
The death penalty also "loses all legitimacy" faced with the possibility of judicial error, because "human justice is imperfect." And finally "the application of the death penalty eliminates the possibility of the offender to make reparation for or change the damage done, the possibility of going to confession", "conversion, repentance and atonement, to encounter 'God's merciful and healing love".
In his message for the 25th World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis said that “the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ.”
President Arroyo reassured the people the decision did not signal weakness on crime. She said the parliamentary decree would soon be signed into law, at which point 1,200 people on death row will see their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
The announcement made at Easter was explained by "faith" reasons. The Catholic Church is for the decision; it has long been calling for abolition of the death penalty. But the families of victims are protesting.