On Saturday, Pope Francis took opposition to the death penalty a step further: the Leader of the Catholic Church explained that life imprisonment is wrong.
Everyone has the right to hope, he asserted, and a lifetime of incarceration takes that away:
“It is up to every society…to ensure that the penalty does not compromise the right to hope, that prospects for reconciliation and reintegration are guaranteed.”
As relayed by the Catholic News Agency, the Pope insisted that a life term is a problem rather than a solution:
“Life imprisonment is not the solution to problems — I repeat: Life imprisonment is not the solution to problems, but a problem to be solved.”
Francis suggested the plight of criminals mirrors the trajectory of society:
“[I]f hope is closed in a cell, there is no future for society. Never deprive one of the right to start over.”
The bishop of Rome also had a message for those living behind bars:
“You who are detained are important to God, who wants to do wonders in you. Have courage because you are in the heart of God; you are precious in his eyes, and even if you feel lost and unworthy, do not lose heart. God is greater than our hearts.”
Perhaps it is, and maybe it does indeed murder hope; but do some criminals who’ve done similarly to their fellow man deserve such a fate?
Not all clergy have been happy with this most recent pope’s sensibilities: As I covered in February, an ex-Vatican cardinal released a 4-page “Manifest of Faith” in protest of a burgeoning liberal Church disposition (here).
Some believe it’s a contradiction for conservatives to be both anti-abortion and pro-death penalty. The Pope’s runnin’ on dual cylinders.
With the combo, it would seem he’s giving both sides something to like.
Perhaps, effectively, he’s following a bit of the Apostle Paul’s directive: “Be all things to all people.”
But when it comes to the lengths of sentences, how does the justice system protect the citizenry without being able to keep locked up those would otherwise do great harm?
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