The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, said this week the recent resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly calling for an international moratorium on the application of the death penalty is a “relevant step” in the defense of life, although it only has “symbolic value” since it is not “an agreement that binds countries.”
The resolution, which was supported by 99 countries, with 52 voting against and 33 abstaining, “is very important, and it is gratifying that so many Catholic organizations have worked for this and thus they have the right to be pleased.”
“I am very happy,” Cardinal Martino said. “I was the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations for more than 16 years and during that time I collaborated in two efforts during the 90’s to achieve this moratorium: we worked very hard and we were discouraged when the votes were tallied, the project had to be withdrawn because the numbers were just not there. This time the numbers are there and for this reason I am very pleased.”
Mario Marazzit, a spokesman for the Sant’Egidio Community, said, “The vote is historic, because it is very strong moral pressure and it points to a standard that has become important for all of the countries that do not use the death penalty yet.” He said he was hopeful the resolution would have an impact on the laws in individual countries.