AMERICA/PERU - “The Church proclaims the primacy and inviolability of human life … no one is master of his life or that of others”: Bishops' statement against capital punishment

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Lima (Agenzia Fides) - The growing tendency in the world to abolish the death penalty is in keeping with the dignity of the human person and therefore with God’s plan for humanity and society the Bishops of Peru said in a statement titled “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance”. With the statement the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Peru takes a position in the debate following a proposed constitutional amendment to apply the death sentence to people found guilty of abusing or killing minors.
The text, the Bishops affirm, intends to promote respect for human life which is sacred and proclaims the primacy and inviolability of human life, which means no one is master of his life or that of others because God is the sole Lord of all life. Every human life is precious to God even that of the sinner as Jesus demonstrated often during his life on earth.
The Bishops say the state has the responsibility to protect life particularly the life of the most defenceless members of society. This duty, expression of legitimate defence, does not include the use of violence. The state must also guarantee a juridical system which can apply punishments which help repair the disorder brought by the crime, defend public order and security of citizens and help correct the criminals. In this sense the bishops say that thanks to better organisation of penal institutions in the world the death penalty is practically non existent. Besides, experience shows that the application of the death penalty is never reparation for the harm committed, it only shows that a society is incapable of guaranteeing the correction of the perpetrator.
The Bishops say the solution must be found in policies of prevention, including formation of human individuals and families based on sound principles and values. “We appeal to all men and women of good will - the bishops say - especially parents, to continue their efforts to educate through good example; we invite specialists in education to tackle the problem and find ways in keeping with the dignity of every human person ". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 12/9/2006; righe 32, parole 435)