The Church’s revised section of the Catechism
declaring the death penalty, under all circumstances, is inadmissable, Cardinal Charles Bo praises as a “fearless assertion to protect human dignity.”
The Salesian Cardinal of Yangon, Myanmar, underscored this in a message he provided to ZENIT on August 10, 2018, entitled “Death Penalty and Deadly Games.”
The Cardinal welcomed the revised section of the Catechism and praised the Holy Father and the Church’s move to protect human dignity.
“With the characteristic mercy and compassion that have marked his papacy, our dear Holy Father Pope Francis has unequivocally corrected the historical aberration,” he said.
“The Catholic Church,” Cardinal Bo stressed, “will henceforth never compromise the right to life under any circumstances and will not support the death penalty in any form.”
Myanmar is emerging from decades of military rule after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections and has taken office.
The Muslim minority of the Rohingyas is considered by the UN to be one of the most persecuted. According to data from the Arakan Project, a humanitarian organization defending Rohingyas rights, since 2010, some 100,000 members of the minority have fled Burma (Myanmar) by sea. Violence between radical Buddhists and Rohingyas has left, since 2012, more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.
In the message, Cardinal Bo notes that this “great announcement” was received with much joy and hope by human rights groups and by people of good will. The Cardinal of Myanmar thanked the Pontiff for his “fearless assertion of Christian principle of human dignity.”
Recognizing that “even those who committed heinous crimes do have a right to life,” he highlighted: “Pope Francis closed all ambiguities and announced boldly [that the] death penalty is abominable in all circumstances.”
Noting that the Church has continued to faithfully watch and protect human dignity, he stressed that since all men and women are created in God’s image, they all merit human dignity. “The announcement by Our dear Holy Father is an affirmation of that pivotal moral position,” he said, noting that for Our Holy Father’s moral strength, we all ought to rejoice.
Yet the journey is long, he admitted, lamenting that human dignity is abused incrementally elsewhere.
“In slavery, in discrimination, in commodification of women and children for sex industry, in war and displacement, the sanctity of human dignity continued to be violated.”
“These crimes, he said, “are incremental death sentences for the victims.”
Moreover, “deadly games”–like boxing, kick boxing and other bodily dangerous games–, the Salesian cardinal also warned, “legitimizes violence and death as sport and entertainment.” Civilized societies, he stressed, need to move away from these “barbaric sports,” which provoke violence.
Cardinal Bo concluded, praying: “May the courageous step taken by the Holy Father inspire the governments and other civil society actors to work towards abolishing all forms of incremental deaths and dangerous sports.”