After his Angelus prayer on Sunday 21 February, Pope Francis spoke about the international conference “For a World Without the Death Penalty,” organised by the Sant’Egidio Community, which began in Rome on 22 February, and expressed his hope that it may inspire fresh efforts towards the abolition of the death penalty.
The Pope observed that the increasingly strong public opposition to the death penalty, even as an instrument of legitimate social defence, is a sign of hope. “Indeed, modern societies are able to effectively control crime without definitively removing from the criminal the possibility of redeeming himself. The issue lies in the context of a perspective on penal justice that increasingly conforms to the dignity of man and God’s design for man and for society. And also penal justice open to the hope of being reintegrated in society. The command “thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and refers to the guilty as well as the innocent.
“The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a good opportunity to promote in the world an increasingly mature respect for life and the dignity of each person. Because even a criminal has the inviolable right to life, a gift of God. I appeal to the consciences of those who govern, so that an international consensus may be reached for the abolition of the death penalty. I propose to those among them who are Catholic to make an exemplary gesture of courage: that the death penalty not be applied in this Holy Year of Mercy”.
“All Christians and men and women of good will are called today to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also to improve conditions in prisons, in respect for human dignity and the dignity of those deprived of freedom”.