09/03/2016 8:58 am
Since the inauguration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the Catholic Church has sought to strengthen human rights, internationally and at home, promoting peace and justice throughout the world.
In his recent visit to the USA, Pope Francis urged American politicians to recognise the inviolable dignity and sanctity of human life, of criminals as much as any other individual.
“A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil”
St Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, Missouri, 1999
Speaking in Congress, Pope Francis called for the global abolition of the death penalty, as "this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes."
The death penalty goes against the message of the Gospels that all can find redemption in God’s love and mercy, but across the world at least 34 countries have execution codified in their laws as a legitimate form of punishment.
In 2015, at least 1,998 people were executed across the world, a 54% increase on the year before. Though this may not seem a pressing issue in the UK, it is the responsibility of all Catholics to stand for life throughout the world.
The Bishops’ Conference works to promote the global abolition of the death penalty by raising the issue with government ministers to ensure it is a priority in diplomacy and trade deals.
There is an Early Day Motion down in the House of Commons supporting Pope Francis’ work on the global abolition of the death penalty.
Bishop Declan Lang wrote an article on the Church’s approach to abolishing the death penalty in November 2015.
On this link, you can read Pope Francis’ address to the US Congress in which he joins the American Catholic Bishops in calling for the abolition of the death penalty.