VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis came out squarely against the
death penalty once again, calling it "unacceptable"
regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned.
Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the
International Commission Against the Death Penalty March 20,
and issued a letter on the occasion urging worldwide
Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the
pope called capital punishment "cruel, inhumane and
degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the
victims, but only foments revenge."
Furthermore, in a modern "state of law, the death penalty
represents a failure" because it obliges the state to kill in
the name of justice, the pope said. Rather, it is a method
frequently used by "totalitarian regimes and fanatical
groups" to do away with "political dissidents, minorities"
and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to
"Human justice is imperfect," he said, and the death penalty
loses all legitimacy within penal systems where judicial
error is possible.
Increasingly, public opinion is against the death penalty, in
view of the effective means available today to restrain a
criminal without denying them the possibility to redeem
themselves and of a "greater moral sensitivity regarding the
value of human life," Pope Francis said.
The death penalty is an affront to the sanctity of life and
to the dignity of the human person, he said. It contradicts
God's plan for humankind and society and God's merciful
justice, he added.
Capital punishment "is cruel, inhuman and degrading, as is
the anxiety that precedes the moment of execution and the
terrible wait between the sentence and the application of the
punishment, a 'torture' which, in the name of a just process,
usually lasts many years and, in awaiting death, leads to
sickness and insanity."
The pope went on to say that the application of capital
punishment denies the condemned the possibility of making
reparation for the wrong committed, of expressing their
interior conversion through confession and expressing
contrition, so as to encounter God's merciful and saving
Speaking about life imprisonment, Pope Francis said such
sentences makes it impossible for a prisoner to "project a
future" and in that way can be considered a "disguised death"
as it deprives prisoners not only of their freedom but also
of their hope.