Korean Bishops Urge End to Death Penalty

SEOUL, South Korea, MARCH 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The South Korean Catholic bishops’ conference has announced its intention to appeal to the Seoul government to abolish the death penalty.

“Let us inspire in this land respect for life,” urged an exhortation of the conference.

“The abolition of the death penalty is the first step toward a world in which all can live together better,” the prelates’ document said, according to a Vatican Radio report.

“Human beings do not have the right to deprive others of the life that has been given to them by God,” the bishops wrote.

Over 110,000 signatures have been collected since the campaign against the death penalty was launched last December.

Thousands of Catholic faithful have already given their support to the initiative, reported Vatican Radio, including all Korean prelates, among them Cardinal-designate Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul and the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

The Constitution and the National Security Law sanction capital punishment for over 100 crimes, including homicide and espionage.

The National Security Law includes dispositions adopted in 1948 in the context of the division of the Korean peninsula.