Today, the Pope made one of his strongest statements in support of the elimination of the death penalty. He was addressing the members of the wonderful Catholic Sant’Egidio Community on the theme “No Justice Without Life”, when he said that he supports political actions around the world aimed at eliminating the death penalty. Specifically, he hopes “your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty.”
Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Sant’Egidio Comunity:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on prayer, we now turn to Jesus, who by his own example most fully reveals the mystery of Christian prayer. A significant moment in this regard is Jesus’ prayer following his Baptism, which expresses his both his deepest identity as the Son of God and his solidarity with the sinful humanity whom he came to save. Jesus’ prayer reflects his complete, filial obedience to the Father’s will, an obedience which would lead him to death on the Cross for the redemption of our sins. With his human heart, Jesus learned to pray from his Mother and from the Jewish tradition, yet the source of his prayer is his eternal communion with the Father; as the incarnate Son, he shows us perfectly how to pray as children of the heavenly Father. Jesus’ example of fidelity to prayer challenges us to examine the time and effort we devote to our own prayer. While prayer is a gift of God, it is also an art learned through constant practice. Jesus teaches us to pray constantly, but also to bear witness before others of the beauty of prayer, self-surrender and complete openness to God.
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I greet the distinguished delegations from various countries taking part in the meeting promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme: No Justice without Life. I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present, including those from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Even better, you can hear the words coming from Pope Benedict himself, straight from the Vatican’s YouTube channel (a phrase that still amazes me!):