Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - According to the prayer of Pope Francis, who asked for prayer for the abolition of the death penalty in September, there have also been initiatives of awareness and prayer in the Catholic communities of Bangladesh. This concern also expresses the Pope's great concern for humanity and the Church's mission, aiming to transform prayer into concrete gestures.
"We fully agree with Pope Francis that the death penalty must also be abolished in Bangladesh. Our lives belong to God, thanks to him we have life and only he can take our lives, no one has the right to take life", comments to Fides Father Patrick Gomes, Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue and deputy parish priest of the parish of Beneedwar-in Naogaon. The priest recalls that "no one has the right to kill a person, whether he is a sinner or a saint". "It is necessary to find alternative punishments and paths to the death penalty; the condemned could be accompanied and followed on a path of rehabilitation, repentance, reconciliation with life and with the injured people. God gives a heart and can transform it. A heart is transformed with love and care. From Bangladesh, we strongly join the call for the abolition of the death penalty", said Fr. Gomes, confirming that the country's Catholics prayed with the Pope this month for the abolition of the death penalty.
As Fides learned, the Pope's invitation, which asks all people of good will to mobilize for the abolition of the death penalty in the world, is welcomed and shared in Bangladesh not only by Christians, but also by leaders of other religious communities.
The Secretary General of the Buddhist Federation of Bangladesh, Bhikkhu Sunanda Priyo, an important Buddhist religious leader, is close to the thought of Pope Francis: "Even if someone commits a serious crime, according to the vision of Buddhism it is not lawful to kill him. Rather it is necessary to be close to the convict, to advise him and to talk to him so that he can change. When a convict receives the death penalty, he cannot walk a path of atonement, so he cannot feel and understand what he is doing wrong. Therefore, according to our Buddhist view, the death penalty should be abolished worldwide".
Young Hindu Sujon Roy reiterated his support for the Pope's prayer request: "The death penalty doesn't solve any problems. It's against God's creation. It should be removed from our legislation".
In the country with a large Islamic majority, however, the Imam of the Darus Salam Hussainia Mosque and Madrasa in the capital Dhaka, Mohammad Hatam, expresses a different opinion: "Islam allows the death penalty according to the Holy Quran. The death penalty can help reduce crime 'by acting as a deterrent'.
In Bangladesh, a total of 162 people have been sentenced to death by courts in the last six months alone. The Bangladesh Penal Code provides for the death penalty for 33 different offenses. In 2020, the government also approved the death penalty as the maximum penalty for the crime of rape. According to Amnesty International, the number of executions in Bangladesh increased by 60% in 2021 compared to the previous year. (PA/FC) (Agenzia Fides, 27/9/2022)