God-Given Right to Life also belongs to the Criminal – Pope FrancisJoshua Nwachukwu | June 29, 2016
The 6th World Congress Against the Death penalty was held recently from the 21st to the 23 of June in Oslo, Norway.
Pope Francis used this opportunity to reaffirm the unjustifiable nature of death penalty in today’s world. What better time to reaffirm this than in the Extraordinary Jubilee year of Mercy.
In his video message to the participants of the congress the Pontiff stressed that, “Nowadays, the death penalty is unacceptable; however grave the crime of the convicted person.” “It is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person,” the Pope continued, pointing out, “It likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment.” He further stated “The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.”
The Pope also encouraged all to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also for the improvement of prison conditions, so that they fully respect the human dignity of those incarcerated.
“‘Rendering justice,’” he highlighted, “does not mean seeking punishment for its own sake, but ensuring that the basic purpose of all punishment is the rehabilitation of the offender. The question must be dealt with within the larger framework of a system of penal justice open to the possibility of the guilty party’s reinsertion in society.”
Before concluding, assuring the participants of his prayers, Pope Francis said, “There is no fitting punishment without hope! Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment.”
Justice is a three way traffic, there is justice for the state, justice for the victim and also justice for the accused. But very core to justice is restitution. Killing a criminal doesn’t serve any good because his/her death doesn’t bring the victim back to the life nor does it serve any real consolation to the victim’s loved ones. Since there is no restitution, there is no justice in killing a criminal. Killing a criminal only leads to the death of any person, the only difference is that the State sees it as justifiable.
On the issue of abolishing death penalty, I support Pope Francis.