ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Bishops: No to the restoration of the death penalty

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday July 2, reiterated its opposition to restore the death penalty. In the note sent to Fides, the Bishops recall the Gospel passage in which Jesus says, "I came that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10) and say: "Our posture cannot be otherwise". However, they explain, the position they take is defensible even on non-religious grounds.
In fact, " justice does not demand the death penalty, adding a mature sense of justice steers as far as possible from retribution in the realization that visiting on an offender the same injury he inflicted on his victim makes matters no better at all for anyone". Instead "justice aims to restore broken relations and the ruptured social coherence that follow from crime". "Executing a human person, they say, does not contribute to any of these goals of justice. In fact, it is a weak and retrogressive legal order that calls for the execution of offenders for its vindication".
The Bishops define capital punishment "cruel and inhuman", firstly for the anxiety and psychological distress that come on one who awaits the moment of execution. Secondly, the relatives of the condemned persons, many times including children, are stigmatized for life. The text recalls that every judicial system "is, like all human systems, liable to error. But the death penalty, once executed, is irreversible and no repentance or regret can ever make up for the horrible injustice of a person wrongfully executed".
Meanwhile, the CBCP said the Philippines is a state party of the Second Optional Protocol of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As such, it said the principal obligation it assumed under this international agreement is to abolish the death penalty.
While saying they "are rightly appalled by the heinous nature of some crimes committed today", but the moral, Christian and mature response to this common social challenge is in the prevention of crime and in testifying against wrong-doers, for law-enforcers to be more vigilant and dedicated to their bounden duties, for prosecutors and courts to be resolute in the prosecution of offenders, and in the trial of those accused. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/07/2014)