John Paul II Backs Campaign Against Death Penalty

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2003 ( John Paul II added his voice in support of the renewal of the international campaign against the death penalty.

Before bidding farewell to the pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus, the Pope greeted members of the Community of Sant’Egidio, an ecclesial movement involved in the struggle against capital punishment.

Today, at the initiative of Sant’Egidio and other non-governmental organizations that make up the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, 300 “Pro-Life Cities” lit up a monument to express their rejection of the death penalty.

Among the cities participating in this 2nd World Day Against the Death Penalty were Amsterdam, Netherlands; New York; Buenos Aires; Berlin; Hiroshima, Japan; Santiago, Chile; Vienna, Austria; Barcelona, Spain; and Paris. Their theme was “No Justice Without Life.”

Mario Marazziti, spokesman of Sant’Egidio, explained that 112 countries have abolished the death penalty, in law or in fact, and 83 use it. Armenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Chile and Ivory Coast abolished it in the past two years.

“The judicial system is never infallible,” Marazziti said. “The death penalty is an irreversible instrument of justice. And man cannot take what he cannot restore.”

The Sant’Egidio campaign is calling for a universal moratorium on executions, an appeal that is supported by 5 million signatures.

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