This month, September 2022, Pope Francis has asked us to pray for the abolition of the death penalty, saying, “Let us pray that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.”

Recently, we added a new page dedicated to the Church’s opposition to the death penalty under “Topics” on our menu bar (sorry about the slow loading time, we are trying to find a solution for this, collecting many of our articles explaining and defending the Church’s official teaching that the death penalty is inadmissible.

This month’s Vatican video was produced in concert with the Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), a Washington DC-based organization committed to the abolition of the death penalty.

From CMN’s press release:

(Washington, DC) August 31, 2022 | As part of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Pope Francis has designated his monthly prayer intention for September to address the death penalty and call for its abolition worldwide. The Holy Father invites us to pray “that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.”

“Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge,” Pope Francis warns in the video produced in collaboration with the Catholic Mobilizing Network, a U.S. based Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice through education, advocacy and prayer. Francis expresses his happiness that rejection of the death penalty is increasing around the world, something which he has said is a sign of hope for the Church and humankind.

“Pope Francis’ prayer intention reminds us that capital punishment continues cycles of harm and violence and perpetuates a throwaway culture,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, “The tragic myth of the death penalty is that it kills the ‘worst of the worst,’ but the truth is it actually targets society’s most vulnerable people: those with mental illness, those with inadequate legal representation, and people living in poverty or marginalized populations.” The United States is a global outlier when it comes to the death penalty:

  • In 2021, there were approximately 2,474 people on death row in the United States.
  • California had the largest death row population, totaling approximately 699 people. Florida trails behind in a distant second place with 338 people, and Texas is third with 198 individuals on death row.
  • As of August 2022, 190 people have been exonerated from death row. Florida leads the nation in death row exonerations, having exonerated 30 people since 1976.
  • Oklahoma recently announced they will execute 25 people in the next 24 months.
  • 144 Countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Some countries that still have death penalty laws on the books include: China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

CMN is inviting Catholics and all people of goodwill to Pledge to Pray with Pope Francis for this historic intention. View the Pope’s Prayer Video at: catholicsmobilizing.org/mobilize-mercy.

Image by Džoko Stach from Pixabay 

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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