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(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 23, 2016 - 12:00am
 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is amplifying his opposition to capital punishment, saying it’s an offense to life, contradicts God’s plan and serves no purpose for punishment.

In a video message to an anti-death penalty congress in Norway, Francis declared the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.

Francis has gone beyond his predecessors and traditional Catholic teaching in saying there is simply no justification for the death penalty today. He said Tuesday that rather than rendering justice, it fosters vengeance.

Church teaching allows for recourse to capital punishment when it is the only way to defend lives “effectively” against an aggressor.

“It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal,” he said.

Francis sent the video message to the delegates of the sixth World Congress against capital punishment, currently being held in Oslo, Norway.
 
The pontiff did not mention any particular country in his message.

He stressed the practice of capital punishment brings no justice to victims.

“Indeed, nowadays, the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person,” Francis said in the message.

The World Congress in Oslo discussed the need to sustain the move in abolishing the death penalty in some countries.

As of today, 140 nations have abolished the death penalty, as compared to only 16 countries in 1977.

The Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Madagascar, Mongolia and Suriname become the latest countries to formally abolish capital punishment.

The death penalty is prevalent in Asia and the Middle East, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran responsible for 89 percent of recorded executions in 2015. This does not include China, where official statistics on its use are considered a state secret.

China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US are the five biggest executioners in the world.

Other countries have passed counterterrorism laws that expanded the list of crimes punishable by death.

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Re: ‘Thou shall not kill’ is absolute – Pope
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 12:03:46 AM »
In the Philippines, president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has announced his intent to bring back the death penalty, 29 years after its abolition was formally adopted.

Duterte stressed the need to revive the death penalty which, he said, would serve as “retribution” for those who committed crimes.

He said those who insist that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime do not understand his position on the issue.

“The death penalty might be a deterrence to commit a crime but that is one school of thought,” Duterte said. “Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did.”

Even without capital punishment, Philippine police have killed more than 60 drug suspects all over the country in the six weeks since Duterte was elected on May 9.

The death penalty was abolished in 1987 during the time of President Corazon Aquino but was revived in 1993 under President Fidel Ramos. Around a handful of convicts were executed during the abbreviated term of then president Joseph Estrada.

Crimes punishable by death include murder, rape, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a devout Catholic, signed a law abolishing capital punishment in 2006.

Duterte reiterated that he would not hesitate to kill those who seek to destroy the youth, which he said is the future of the country.

“Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. Do not destroy my children because I will kill you,” he said.

Duterte, who has pummeled critics of his strong anti-crime drive, said he would just ignore Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon, who has been critical of his plans.

“If you know Gascon or if he is your friend, tell him I won’t follow him,” he said.

Duterte also made an unusual threat against incoming senator Leila de Lima, who vowed to scrutinize the law enforcement operations of the next administration.

“If De Lima does not shut her mouth, I will kill her – with love. If she agrees, I don’t know,” he remarked. – AP, Alexis Romero



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