In a message to participants of the Fifth World Congress Against the Death Penalty held in Madrid, Pope Francis reiterated the Holy See’s support for “the abolition of the death penalty.”
Opposition to the death penalty is part of the Church’s defense of the dignity of human life, he said, and it is “a courageous reaffirmation of the conviction that humanity can successfully confront criminality” without resorting to the suppression of life.
In his message, which was signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father recalled that his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II made similar pleas.
He asked that “capital sentences be commuted to a lesser punishment that allows for time and incentives for the reform of the offender.”
“Today, more than ever, it is urgent that we remember and affirm the need for universal recognition and respect for the inalienable dignity of human life, in its immeasurable value,” Cardinal Bertone wrote on behalf of Pope Francis.
The Holy Father, he added, sent his best wishes to the participants of the congress for a “fruitful development of their work.”