“That the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country”. This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of September, released in a video published by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network on 31 August.
The short clip accompanying the Pope’s appeal opens with protesters publicly demonstrating against capital punishment, carrying signs calling out the inhumanity of the death penalty.
The Holy Father then begins by noting that “there is a growing ‘NO’ to the death penalty around the world”, saying that “this is a sign of hope” for the Church. He goes on to explain that “society can effectively repress crime without definitively depriving the offenders of the possibility of redeeming themselves” and that “in every legal sentence, there must be a window of hope”.
The video shows flashes of men and women behind bars, completing their legal sentences alone. Then there is a montage of the different instruments that have been used throughout history to carry out the death sentence, including the electric chair, lethal injection and a noose.
“The death penalty is morally inadmissible”, the Pope says, adding that “up to the very last moment, a person can convert and change”. Noting that “the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ refers to both the innocent and the guilty”, the Holy Father concludes by calling “on all people of goodwill to mobilize for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world”.
In the press release accompanying the video, Fr Frédéric Fornos, SJ, International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said that capital punishment “is like putting oneself in God’s place” and that “a death sentence determines that a person will no longer be able to change, something we don’t know”.
Available online at www.thepopevideo.org and translated into 23 languages, the video for the prayer intention for September was created and produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, in cooperation with La Machi Agency and the Dicastery for Communication.