Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) president, Archbishop Denis Hart, has written to a Parliamentary inquiry, offering the Church’s help for the Australian Government’s international work to abolish the death penalty.
The Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, recently published the ACBC’s submission. The Joint Committee is holding an inquiry into Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty.
Archbishop Hart restated the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty, saying we must recognise and honour the human dignity of both victims and offenders.
‘Human dignity is the dignity unique to human beings and the basis of all human rights,’ said Archbishop Hart. “The inherent dignity and right to life of every person must be respected from the moment of conception until natural death.
‘The imposition of the death penalty is cruel and unnecessary for what it does to those found guilty, to their families and to our society. Communities are much richer when they can demonstrate mercy.
‘Prison chaplains have a vital role journeying with prisoners to help them turn their lives around. Chaplains are within the prison, but not of it. They are a sign of mercy and that society has not given up on the prisoner. They bring hope and can be a window for the wider community into the experience of the jailed person.
‘As a community, Australians and our international friends must have a commitment to respect and protect the dignity of every human life, even those people who do great harm. We can recognise the seriousness of the offences committed but still oppose the death penalty. Our concern for the worth of human life motivates our opposition to the death penalty.
‘The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference would be happy to assist the Australian Government where it can to make contact with appropriate Holy See diplomats. It would also be pleased to assist where possible with making representations to other national governments with the assistance of the respective National Catholic Bishops Conferences.’
A copy of the submission can be found on the ACBC website: https://www.catholic.org.au/about-us/public-policy-office-contact
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