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Pope Francis intensifies his call for America to end the death penalty

Pope FrancisAs part of his visit to the United States this week, Pope Francis renewed his call for world abolition of the death penalty. He included specific encouragement to those working to end the death penalty in the United States and a focus on hope and rehabilitation.

Here is the Pope's full statement on the death penalty, excerpted from his speech in front of the join session of Congress.

"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.

Pope gives unequivocal message: death penalty is unacceptable

Pope FrancisIn one of his strongest statements against the death penalty to date, Pope Francis said that capital punishment “is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.” The Pope’s comments were submitted in a forceful call to the International Commission against the Death Penalty in Madrid.

The Pope added that the death penalty “contradicts God’s plan for man and society” and said, “Justice can never be accomplished by killing a human being.”

He acknowledged society's need to protect itself but said that in the modern era, that does not apply to the death penalty. "When the death penalty is applied, it is not for a current act of aggression, but rather for an act committed in the past. It is also applied to persons whose current ability to cause harm is not current, as it has been neutralized – they are already deprived of their liberty."

EJUSA helps mobilize support for repeal in Uganda

UADP kickoffThe death penalty is in decline all over the world, not just here in the United States. In fact, 70% of the world’s countries have abandoned it in law or practice with 90 countries doing away with it since 1976.

So when EJUSA Campaign Strategist Colleen Cunningham got the invitation from the Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing to participate in the official launch of a new death penalty repeal organization in Uganda, she jumped at the chance to be a part of this growing international momentum.

The Journey of Hope is led by family members of murder victims. They conduct speaking tours highlighting the impact of the death penalty on those at its center – victims’ families, families of people on death row or who have been executed, exonerees, and other activists. Colleen provided logistical support to the Uganda speaking tour, helped launch a new website for Ugandans Against the Death Penalty, met with the Archbishop and other leaders in the Archdiocese of Kampala, and talked about the current state of the U.S. death penalty on a local Catholic radio show.

Video: International attention to the death penalty

EU Video ThumbnailThe death penalty is not only dying in the United States. It’s dying all over the world. In the Western Hemisphere, 34 of the 35 countries have ended the death penalty in law or in practice.

That was the subject of the 56th Lecture of the Americas, sponsored by the Organization of American States last month. EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein was on hand for the event. Although much of the panel focused on the United States’ lone status carrying out executions in the hemisphere, Silberstein was able to share reflections about the strong momentum for repeal.

A week later, Silberstein spoke at a European Union event at the DC residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands, sharing the stage with several national partners to talk about what's next for death penalty repeal efforts.

The Power of the Crowd

Susan Sarandon, a longtime friend of EJUSA, has signed on to EJUSA's petition to end the death penalty!

Films that Matter: Give Up Tomorrow

As a tropical storm beats down on an island in the Philippines, two sisters leave work and never make it home.

Law enforcement see eye to eye on death penalty

A couple of weeks ago EJUSA co-sponsored an event at the National Press Club bringing together members of law enforcement from Europe and the U.S. to talk about the death penalty.

Recommended link: Death row lets families down

This fantastic article, in the British paper The Guardian, is about the families of murder victims that

Pope urges Mexico to respect life, praises abolition of death penalty

Pope Benedict XVI took his meeting with the new Mexican ambassador to the Vatican, Hector Ling Altamirano, as an opportunity to make one of his first clear, direct public statements expressing is opposition of the death penalty. Read about it here:

Abolition Day

March 1st is International Death Penalty Abolition Day, marking the anniversary of the day in 1847 when Michigan became the first English-speaking territory to abolish the death penalty. Many state and local groups plan events around this date, with educational speakers, letter writing, or other actions. Contact your local group to find out if any events are planned, or plan an event yourself! If you don't know of a group in your area, contact us and we'll help you find one.

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