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Vatican says death penalty violates Gospel right to life

 Renewing its attack on the death penalty, the Holy See says that it is difficult to justify its use today and warns that the practice is an affront to human dignity and "the evangelical teaching of forgiveness." The Vatican Information Service yesterday made public a Holy See declaration issued during the course of a world congress on the death penalty, held in Paris from 1-3 February. The World Congress against the Death Penalty brought together over 600 abolitionists and decision-makers from all over the world and included a presentation from Mario Marazziti of the respected lay Catholic peace group, Community of Sant'Egidio. "The Paris congress," reads the French-language text, "is being celebrated at a time in which, because of recent executions, the campaign against the death penalty is facing new and disquieting challenges. "Public opinion has become sensitised and has expressed its concern for a more effective recognition of the inalienable dignity of human beings, and of the universality and integrity of human rights, beginning with the right to life." As in previous meetings on the same subject, "the Holy See takes this opportunity to welcome and affirm once more its support for all initiatives that aim to defend the inherent value and inviolability of all human life, from conception to natural end. "In this perspective, it is worth noting that the use of the death penalty is not just a negation of the right to life, but also an affront to human dignity." "The Catholic Church continues to maintain that the legitimate authorities of State have the duty to protect society from aggressors," but "some States traditionally include the death penalty among the means used to achieve this end," an option "that is difficult to justify today." States now have new ways "of preserving public order and people's safety," which include "offering the accused stimuli and encouragement" to mend their ways." Such non-lethal means of punishment, the statement continues, "correspond better to the ... the common good and conform more to the dignity of the human person." The statement says that the practice of capital punishment "involves many dangers, such as the possibility of punishing the innocent and the "temptation to foment violent forms of revenge rather than true social justice." Source: VIS