News Brief: Pope Francis Calls for Prayer to Abolish the Death Penalty

Pope Francis has issued a renewed call to “all people of good will to mobilize for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world,” devoting the September 2022 worldwide prayer intention of his papacy to ending capital punishment. In a video announcing his monthly prayer intention, the pontiff said, “Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice.”

Pope Francis has been a strong advocate for ending capital punishment, revising the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2018 to call the death penalty “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and deeming it “inadmissible” in all cases. He revisited those themes in the prayer initiative, saying “the death penalty is morally inadmissible, for it destroys the most important gift we have received: life.”

Society can ensure public safety without “without definitively depriving the offenders of the possibility of redeeming themselves,” the Pope said, making capital punishment unnecessary as a legal tool. “Always, in every legal sentence, there must be a window of hope. … Let us not forget that, up to the very last moment, a person can convert and change,” he said.

“Each day, there is a growing ‘NO’ to the death penalty around the world,” Pope Francis said, describing that as “a sign of hope” for the Church. “Let us pray,” he said, “that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.”

Sources

Mobilize Mercy — Joining the Pope’s Prayer to Abolish the Death Penalty, Catholic Mobilizing Network, September 1, 2022; Pope’s September prayer inten­tion: For abo­li­tion of the death penal­ty, Vatican News, August 312022.

Photo: screen­shot from the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, September 2022 prayer inten­tion video.