Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ Pastoral appeal to our law enforcers: Appeal to Reason and Humanity – Seek peace and pursue it (Ps.34:14)

Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ Pastoral appeal to our law enforcers: Appeal to Reason and Humanity – Seek peace and pursue it (Ps.34:14)

Brothers and sisters enforcers of the law:

Peace be with you!

We commend you, our law enforcers, on your new-found earnestness in enforcing the law and in apprehending malefactors, but we are disturbed by an increasing number of reports that suspected drug-peddlers, pushers and others about whom reports of criminal activity have been received, have been shot, supposedly because they resist arrest.

It is equally disturbing that vigilantism seems to be on the rise. Media has carried reports of bodies, apparently of homicide or murder victims, showing up on whom placards announcing their supposed crimes are writ large!

Appeal to Humanity in Us

As your bishops, we offer the following guidelines:

1. One can “shoot to kill” solely on the ground of legitimate self-defense or the defense of others. Law and jurisprudence have sufficiently spelled out the elements of self-defense, and for purposes of Catholic morality, it is necessary to emphasize that you, as law enforcers, can “shoot to kill” only first, when there is unjust provocation; second, when there is a real, not only conjectural, threat to your life or to the lives and safety of others; third, when there is due proportion between the threat posed and your own use of a firearm aimed at the threatening subject.

2. To kill a suspect outright, no matter how much surveillance work may have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified. Suspicion is never the moral equivalent of certainty, and punishment may be inflicted only on the ground of certainty.

3. When the arrest of a suspect is attempted, and the suspect endeavors to flee or to escape from the scene, every attempt by non-lethal means should be made to stop the suspect from fleeing and if shot at, every attempt should be made to spare the fleeing suspect from death, unless the escape of such a victim clearly and immediately puts others in harm’s way.

4. It is never morally permissible to receive reward money to kill another. When bounty-hunting takes the form of seeking out suspects of crime, killing them, then presenting proof of the death of the object of the hunt to the offeror of the reward, one is hardly any different from a mercenary, a gun-for-hire, no matter that the object of one’s manhunt should be a suspected offender.

5. It is the moral duty of every Catholic, every Christian, in fact, to report all forms of vigilantism of which they have personal knowledge. For greater reason is it a duty to keep away from any participation and any form of cooperation with vigilantes and vigilante movements.

We Must Fight Criminality But…

The impunity with which offenders of the law carry on with their criminal activity also points out flaws in our criminal justice system but remembering that the community is as much a pillar of this system as are all other components, members of the Community — Christians especially — should not be too quick to point accusing fingers at law-enforcers, prosecutors and judges. We must all ask ourselves whether or not by our silence, our indifference, or worse, our acts, we may have contributed to the proliferation of crime and the increase in criminal activity.

We understand the difficulties that law-enforcers face, the daily risk to life and limb, but not only civil society but also the Church counts on them for the flourishing of a society where all enjoy the blessings of a regime under laws that are just and institutions that are fair.

We beg our prosecutors and judges to remain firm in their consecration to justice, for there can be no greater insult to the Creator than to use the gifts of intelligence, discernment and one’s success at legal studies for ends contrary to builds the Body of Christ and contributes the building of the Kingdom of God. “To all to whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

Do Not Set God Aside

God never gave up on us. We have no right giving up on ourselves or on our brothers and sisters. Jesus came to restore the harmony of Paradise. Let no one ever raise his hand against his brother or sister, for the blood that is shed — even if it be the blood of one we suspect of crime — cries to heaven for justice!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Intramuros, Manila, June 20, 2016

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

Read the source and comments: http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=79170

Death penalty fosters revenge, not justice, pope says

Pope Francis (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis during a general audience in June. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Use of the death penalty is an unacceptable practice that sows vengeance and does not bring justice to the victims of crime, Pope Francis said.

No matter how serious the crime, to kill a convicted person is “an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person,” as well as a contradiction of God’s plan and “his merciful justice,” the pope said June 21 in a video message to participants at the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty.

“It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty,” the pope said in his message to the meeting in Oslo, Norway.

The June 21-23 conference, sponsored by the French association “Together Against the Death Penalty,” promotes the universal abolition of the death penalty. The group expected more than 1,300 people — including government officials — from more than 80 countries to attend.

Thanking the participants for their commitment to “a world free of the death of penalty,” the pope said growing opposition to the death penalty as a legitimate means of social defense is “one sign of hope.”

The Year of Mercy, he added, also can serve as an occasion globally to promote “more evolved forms of respect for the life and dignity of each person.”

“It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal,” he said.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the death penalty can be used “if this is the only possible way” of defending lives from an unjust aggressor, it also stresses the importance of not removing the possibility of redemption from a person convicted of a crime.

“The cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent,” the catechism states.

Pope Francis echoed the church’s teaching, calling on conference participants to also work toward improving prison conditions “so that they fully respect the human dignity of those incarcerated” and promote the rehabilitation of convicts.

“There is no fitting punishment without hope!” Pope Francis said. “Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment.”

Read the source and comments: https://cnstopstories.com/2016/06/21/death-penalty-fosters-revenge-not-justice-pope-says/

Related articles/ Videos click below:

Cardinal Tagle: Oppose ‘culture of death,’ Church prays for leaders http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/06/19/cardinal-tagle-oppose-culture-of-death-church-prays-for-leaders/

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas alarmed over vigilante killings http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/06/20/cbcp-president-archbishop-socrates-villegas-alarmed-over-vigilante-killings/

Death penalty won’t solve crime: Branson – Visiting tycoon cites experience in Europe http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/25/death-penalty-wont-solve-crime-branson-visiting-tycoon-cites-experience-in-europe/

Is death penalty Biblical? Priest explains why not http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/23/is-death-penalty-biblical-priest-explains-why-not/

Law dean raises 7 arguments vs death penalty http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/23/law-dean-raises-7-arguments-vs-death-penalty/

Pope Francis Calls for Abolition of Death Penalty http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/21/pope-francis-calls-for-abolition-of-death-penalty/

If death penalty returns, bishop says he’ll volunteer to die http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/20/if-death-penalty-returns-bishop-says-hell-volunteer-to-die/

In a letter (March 20,2015) to the International Commission against the Death Penalty, the Pope Francis says that today the death penalty is “inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person.” He adds that it “does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.”