The intrinsic dignity of all human life

The government of Indonesia is seeking to execute by firing squad fourteen prisoners currently imprisoned on drug charges. Let us first then take a moment to say a prayer for their release. If we find ourselves too late, let us say a prayer for the repose of their souls, let us pray that they are now basking in the glory of the Father in Heaven, and for their families still grieving here on Earth.

The United Nations is currently employing means to save these prisoners’ lives, as “(they) oppose(s) the use of capital punishment in all circumstances.” On July 28, UN Secretary General Bang Ki-moon, along with others, appealed to the Indonesian government to halt these executions, especially as the drug-related nature of the offenses does not meet the threshold necessary to justify capital punishment under international law. Again, let us pray that this appeal is met with success.

The United Nations’ strong position in opposition to the death penalty aligns with the position of the Catholic Church today, and is what I believe to be a very beautiful position in defense of the dignity of all human life. The intrinsic dignity that every human being has is just that-intrinsic-which means that it can neither be taken away from us by another nor given away willingly by ourselves! Our dignity never leaves us, and it has not left our brothers and sisters in prison and on Death Row either. If anything, we must do more to remind them of the precious dignity that they possess, and that they are loved beyond any sort of fathomable measure!

At a Papal Mass in St. Louis, Missouri in 1999, St. Pope John Paul the Great said this about the practice of the death penalty: “The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil…I renew the appeal I made…for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”