The Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore in Pakistan has designated 19 October as a day of prayer for Asia Bibi.
Asia Bibi loses Appeal
Asia Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death. In a decision described by Bishop Ruffin Anthony of Islamabad / Rawalpindi as ‘heartbreaking’, the mother of five lost an appeal against the sentence on 16 October. Read more on this case from Vatican Radio.
Human rights organisations believe that the blasphemy laws are often exploited for personal gain or to address grudges. The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference, has advocated the abolition of the blasphemy laws for years.
Prayer for Asia Bibi
Jesus, you were executed as a criminal,
be with Asia Bibi as she faces the death penalty.
Give her peace of mind
and comfort her children.
Touch the hearts, and enlighten the minds
of lawmakers and legal officers
in Pakistan, and in all countries
that use the death penalty.
Help us all to find life-giving
ways of resolving problems.
The Death Penalty
Here are some of the reasons why I oppose the death penalty in all cases, including Asia Bibi’s:
– The death penalty offends the dignity and sanctity of all human life. Every human being, even those who have done great evil, has the right to life.
– Using the death penalty undermines a society’s respect for life. It contributes to a culture of vengeance and death.
– Applying the death penalty is out of step with what Jesus taught and how he lived. He preached forgiveness rather than upholding the law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.
– The death penalty is cruel and unnecessary – there are other ways of protecting society from violent criminals.
– The death penalty denies people the chance to repent and reform.
– There is no empirical evidence that the death penalty actually reduces crime rates.
– It doesn’t make sense to oppose killing by means of State killings, and it doesn’t work.
– Mistakes happen, even in the best criminal justice systems, and so there is a risk that innocent people may be put to death.
– In many countries the death penalty is used in a way that discriminates against the poor, marginalized, disadvantaged and members of minority groups.
Catholic Teaching on the Death Penalty
Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church explain Church teaching on the death penalty.
The Catechism looks at the death penalty in the context of the fifth commandment: you shall not kill. The Church has not always rejected the death penalty, but these days it says that cases where the death penalty might be acceptable are “practically non-existent”:
“The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving them definitively of the possibility of redeeming themselves, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’ “Catechism of the Catholic Church n 2267/
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church not only agrees but also praises opposition to the death penalty as a sign of growing moral awareness:
“The Church sees as a sign of hope “a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of ‘legitimate defence’ on the part of society … The growing number of countries adopting provisions to abolish the death penalty or suspend its application is also proof of the fact that cases in which it is absolutely necessary to execute the offender “are very rare, if not practically non-existent”. The growing aversion of public opinion towards the death penalty and the various provisions aimed at abolishing it or suspending its application constitute visible manifestations of a heightened moral awareness.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n 405
Act for Asia Bibi
Please consider signing this online petition, or creating your own addressing the Pakistani Ambassador in your country.