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South Korea: Church Leads Advent Campaign Against Death Penalty

Catholic Bishops Call for Support of Faithful

The Catholic Church in South Korea is giving new impulse during the period of Advent to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in the country. Fides News Agency reported December 5, 2018, that it heard from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops of S. Korea that it has called on all the faithful and all citizens of good will to sign this Advent 2018 a petition asking the Korean government to abrogate capital punishment from the national legislative system. This is the fourth time that the Catholic Church in Korea participates actively in a signature collection to abolish capital punishment and life imprisonment.

The petition, signed symbolically by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-Jung, Archbishop of Seoul, and by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea, archbishop Igino Kim Hee-Joong, and numerous other prominent Catholics will be diffused in all Catholic dioceses and parishes where the faithful will be encouraged to sign the petition after the Sunday Mass. The goal is to conclude the new petition by December 31, 2018, and present it to the 20th National Assembly.

In recent years seven special initiatives for the abolition of the death penalty have been presented to the Korean Parliament. The Catholic Church in Korea presented signatures to Congress in 2005, 2008 and in 2012 the latter petition bore 85,000 signatures including all 26 of Korea’s Catholic bishops.

The Korean church decided to re-launch the abolition campaign following indications of Pope Francis who in recent months altered the norms of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the matter which reads : “the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” ( n. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

South Korea is classified as a country “abolitionist de facto”, since the last capital punishment dates to the year 1997. In this country capital punishment is still technically in force for grave crimes.

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