Pope Francis spoke early in his pontificate:
268. “The arguments against the death penalty are numerous and well-known. The Church has rightly called attention to several of these, such as the possibility of judicial error and the use made of such punishment by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes as a means of suppressing political dissidence or persecuting religious and cultural minorities, all victims whom the legislation of those regimes consider ‘delinquents’. All Christians and people of good will are today called to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, legal or illegal, in all its forms, but also to work for the improvement of prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their freedom.
Perhaps this last bit ahead bothers some death penalty opponents. That life in prison sentence may well be the end of life, especially for people under totalitarian societies.
I would link this to life imprisonment… A life sentence is a secret death penalty”. [Address to Delegates of the International Association of Penal Law(23 October 2014): AAS 106 (2014), 842]
US politics tends to focus on the most horrid of abuses–the worst murderers, the worst miscarriages of justice. Pope Francis has his eye on two-hundred-some other countries that do not have these American style debates that provide more heat than light.
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