VATICAN CITY (CNS) — 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 March 4 during a discussion on the death penalty.
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.”
Citing the past three pontificates, Archbishop Tomasi briefly explained church teaching on the issue, saying the “steady improvements in the organization of the penal system” in most states makes it “evident nowadays that means, other than the death penalty,” are sufficient to protect public safety against aggressors.
Countries working to change their penal law — both to respect prisoners’ human dignity and to protect public safety — “are moving in the right direction,” he said.
Archbishop Tomasi noted growing public opinion in favor of abolition, which he said the Vatican delegation hopes will “encourage states” to drop capital punishment.
In addition, he said, the death penalty has not worked to deter crime and its “irreversibility… does not allow for eventual corrections in the case of wrongful convictions.”
According to the United Nations, 160 countries have either abolished the death penalty or have enacted a moratorium. In the past six months, Chad, Fiji and Madagascar abolished the death penalty. While the trend is generally toward abolition, there were more state executions in 2013 than in 2012, and some states reintroduced it, the United Nations reported.
In the United States, the death penalty remains legal in 32 states. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the number of death sentences imposed in the U.S. has dropped in the past 10 years, from 138 to 72. Last fall, more than 3,000 inmates were on death row. In the first two months of 2015, eight inmates were executed in the U.S.; 35 inmates were executed last year.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103