Pope Francis speaks out against the death penalty
Pope Francis is known to be an opponent of the death penalty and has spoken out against it on previous occasions, for example in September 2015 during his visit to the United States. In his latest pronouncement he has gone even further and urged all Christians and people of good will to work “not only for the abolition of the death penalty” but also to improve the conditions in prison to respect the human dignity of prisoners.
Francis urged Catholic leaders not to carry out executions during the Year of Mercy, adding that to do so would be seen as a “courageous and exemplary act”. He then went on to appeal to the consciences of government leaders to join “the international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty.”
Rome is hosting an international convention for those working to abolish the death penalty . Pope Francis said he hoped that the convention, which is being promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community, will act as a focus and strengthen efforts to abolish capital punishment.
“The commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’ has absolute value and concerns both the innocent and the guilty” Pope Francis said. Even criminals “maintain the inviolable right to life, the gift of God.” The Pope maintained that the penal system must always be open to the hope of reintegrating criminals into society.