Philippines: Bishop welcomes new teaching on death penalty


Source: CBCP News

A Filipino Catholic Church official has welcomed the change made by Pope Francis to the Catechism of the Catholic Church declaring death penalty as "inadmissible", and has reiterated the call by the country's Catholic Church against the government's plan to bring back capital punishment.

"The purpose of punishment is rehabilitation and not vengeance," stressed Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). "Death is totally unacceptable because there are now means to rehabilitate those who commit crime while protecting the community," he said in an interview on Radio Veritas of Manila Archdiocese.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced on August 2 that Pope Francis approved a revision in the Catechism saying that the light of the Gospel, the Church teaches that "the death penalty is inadmissiblebecause it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Previously, the Catechism said the Church didn't exclude recourse to capital punishment "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."

The CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Carealso welcomed Pope Francis' decision to revise the Catechism and its explanation of the Church's teaching on the capital punishment.

Mr Rodolfo Diamante, Executive Secretary of ECPPC, said they have long been pushing for such a revision. "It should never be said, especially in the teachings of the Church, that death penalty is justifiable," he said.

"If you will be faithful of reading the Scriptures, God's compassion towards the people, especially to the weak, is really unconditional," Diamante said.

The Philippines abolished capital punishment in June 2006 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Rodrigo Duterte promised to reimpose the death penalty during the 2016 elections as part of his anti-crime campaign.

In February year, the House of Representatives approved the death penalty bill for drug-related offenses but a similar measure has remained pending at the Senate.

Manny Pacquiao, popular Filipino professional boxer and politician, currently serving as a senator, has been calling for the revival of the death penalty, citing the Bible. Diamante has lashed out at him saying he was misleading the people with his wrong interpretation of the Bible.

In March 2017, the CBCP issued a pastoral statement calling for the abolition of capital punishment "one and for all" saying "Jesus was never an advocate of any form of "legal killing".

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