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Pope backs campaign against death penalty

Pope John Paul II has added his voice to support the renewal of the international campaign against the death penalty.

Before bidding farewell to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square on Sunday, the Holy Father greeted members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, an ecclesial movement involved in the struggle against capital punishment.

Sant'Egidio and other non-governmental organisations that make up the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty lit up a monument on Sunday to express their rejection of the death penalty.

Sant'Egidio spokesperson Mario Marazziti said 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 have 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 five million signatures.

John Paul II Backs Campaign Against Death Penalty (Zenit 30/11/03)

Community of Sant'Egidio | Death Penalty Campaign News
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
Pontifical Council backs groups opposed to death penalty (CathNews 11/3/03)
Sr Helen Prejean: Making a Difference (Madonna, November 2003)
The Death Penalty and the Catholic Church (St Anthony Messenger)

2 Dec 2003