Death Penalty

Canadian bishops call on government to oppose capital punishment internationally


The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked the Prime Minister of Canada to “strenuously” intervene when Canadians face a death sentence in other countries.

Archbishop of Winnipeg V. James Weisgerber on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of the conference’s Permanent Council, which is composed of twelve cardinals, archbishops and bishops from across Canada, and oversees the policies and plans of the 85 Roman and Eastern Catholic bishops who form the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Weisgerber said the Permanent Council was “most concerned” that the Canadian government was prepared to accept the execution of Canadians in other countries.

Referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the archbishop said that civil authorities should limit themselves to non-lethal means to defend against aggressors, since such limits are more in keeping with the common good and more respectful of the dignity of the human person.

“The Permanent Council calls on you and the Government of Canada to reconsider your present stance and to return to the earlier policy of strenuously intervening with other governments when Canadians face a sentence of execution,” Archbishop Weisgerber wrote.

“Capital punishment is a serious undermining of human dignity and of basic respect for human life,” the archbishop concluded.

A Canadian is currently facing the death penalty in the state of Montana.

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