The Vatican’s spokesman has invited humanity to put the death penalty in the past. Rejecting the gravest punishment of all in every one of its forms, he said that today mankind has moved beyond any necessity to kill.
During his weekly Vatican television editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi voiced his abhorrence of all forms of the death penalty and declared himself roundly contrary to it.
Stating his position against capital punishment, he said “I don’t want it” in any country, in any of its forms, for any person or in any circumstance, “whether painful or painless ... in public or in secret.” This, he explained, is because he “seeks a greater justice.”
For the benefit of all people, he observed, “it is good to walk this street to affirm ever more ... the dignity of the person and of human life, of which it is not up to us to dispose.”
The Church, according to the Catholic Catechism, “does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
Citing the Pope John Paul II-based words from the same article of the Catechism, Fr. Lombardi reminded that such examples today “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
The spokesman added his own encouragement to take it a step further, urging, “(l)et’s make them nonexistent. It’s better.”
According to statistics from Amnesty International, executions were known to have taken place in 18 nations in 2009. Fifty-two people were executed in the U.S. alone. The organization reported that at least 714 people, not including the “likely” thousands in China, were killed worldwide by hanging, shooting, beheading, stoning, electrocution and lethal injection.