Pope Francis Calls For An End To The Death Penalty In Speech To Congress

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On Thursday morning, as Pope Francis addressed the US Congress, he implicitly reminded America it's one of the leading executioners in the world, stating,

Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' (Mt 7:12)... In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.

Indeed, the pope called for all countries to end the use of the death penalty, a controversial practice the US obstinately retains in spite of widespread criticism.

As Amnesty International notes, over two-thirds of the world's countries have "abolished the death penalty in law or practice."

Like Pope Francis, the United Nations has also consistently called for a moratorium on capital punishment.

By continuing to use the death penalty, the US joins Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China as one of the top five executioners worldwide.

According to Pew Research Center, a majority of the American public (56 percent) continues to favor the death penalty for individuals convicted of murder.

But it is notable support for its use has declined significantly over the years, and one wonders what impact the pope's remarks will have in this regard.

Citations: Read the Popes Speech to Congress (Mother Jones), Broken Beyond Repair (Amnesty International), United Nations vote on death penalty moratorium puts US in awkward spot (Al Jazeera), Less Support for Death Penalty Especially Among Democrats (Pew Research Center)