End of Death Penalty?

The Catholic Church firmly opposes the death penalty and urges all states to move toward its abolition, said the Vatican’s permanent observer to United Nations agencies in Geneva. “My delegation contends that bloodless means of defending the common good and upholding justice are possible and calls on states to adapt their penal system to demonstrate their adhesion to a more humane form of punishment,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 4. The archbishop said the Vatican “fully supports the efforts to abolish” the death penalty and suggested two steps to reach this goal. The first is to “sustain the social reforms that would enable society to implement the abolition of the death penalty, and the second is to improve prison conditions to ensure the human dignity of prisoners.” Archbishop Tomasi said the “steady improvements in the organization of the penal system” in most states make it “evident nowadays that means other than the death penalty” are sufficient to protect public safety against aggressors. In an unprecedented joint editorial on March 5, four national Catholic journals—America, The National Catholic Register, The National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor—urged, “Capital punishment must end.”

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