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Paglia: The Prophetic Church in the World’s Fight against the Death Penalty

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The head of the Pontifical Academy for Life intervenes on the figures presented by the Amnesty International report on the death penalty which documented an increasing number of executions in the face of a small number of countries that practice them: “The Magisterium gives hope, harmony and love.” The power to assert opposition to this astonishing cruelty, which the Bible has forbidden since the time of Cain.

Francesca Sabatinelli – Vatican City

The hope is that this example will spread, and that countries that have abandoned the death penalty, either through abolition or moratorium, can inspire those who still practice it. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, comments on data in Amnesty International’s 2023 report on the death penalty in the world, which highlights how large numbers of executions are in fact produced by a small group of countries. Last year, there were 1,153 known executions recorded, a figure that is +30% compared to 2022, higher than at any time in the past 10 years, but this is due to a small number of countries compared to the past, 16 in total. This is certainly the lowest level recorded so far, according to Amnesty International. Also this year, Iran and Saudi Arabia ranked first, with 89% of all executions, but figures from countries such as China, North Korea and Vietnam that do not disclose data are missing.

Listen to the interview with Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia

Msgr Paglia, Amnesty International’s 2023 report notes that there are still significant numbers on the death penalty, but in reality, only a small minority of countries implement it. The organization hopes that these countries will move with the times and abolish this punishment once and for all…

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Of course, I think that what the report says shows a positive side, as the number of countries that suspend and abolish punishment is increasing, and the problem is that some of these countries, unfortunately, are intensifying this cruelty, and I hope that the example that is spreading can also help in defeating this scourge, for example in some countries. Such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it was also recently reintroduced. I truly hope that this tool, which is increasingly emerging in its cruelty, will be abolished. I am convinced that progress will help us in this regard. My concern lies in another perspective, which is the perspective of customs clearance, if I may say so, of war, of weapons, of the sensitivity that specifically assigns to weapons what politics should do at the moment when I feel I should relate instead to the positive progress found in Another perspective.

Progress which the Church has always viewed with great care and good wishes: The Church knows that the death penalty is unacceptable from any point of view…

It is a beautiful prophecy, and we already remember the prophecy of Saint John Paul II in the 1990s when he interceded wherever there was something prevented, delayed, postponed, or cancelled. Even the very clear statement of Pope Francis, who went so far as to transform Christian teaching, has now been confirmed in the latest document Infinite Dignitas With great clarity and clarity. And I can offer my little testimony. I remember when, in the 1990s, we tried, with the Community of Sant’Egidio, to get the American episcopate to engage in this field, and we were carefully stopped. Last week I was in the United States, and there is instead a movement of Christians against the death penalty, supported by the episcopate, and this is a wonderful little example of how this perspective from the Catholic Church is at the service of a truly new humanity. Where dignity means respect, protection and assistance for all human lives.

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This is what Benedict XVI said when he drew the attention of all community leaders to the need to do everything in their power to abolish the death penalty. Ratzinger, and before that John Paul II, and then Pope Francis, one vote against the death penalty…

Yes, it seems to me that the Magisterium of the Church has now been clearly expressed in this perspective, and this clearly gives hope: harmony and strength in asserting the Church’s opposition to this astonishing cruelty, which the Bible had already forbidden since the time of Cain. This is the prophecy of the entire Magisterium, Pope Benedict It’s a great hope, because it’s a beautiful truth, and so powerful, in my opinion, that it can’t really be stopped.

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