CBCP frowns on ‘Biblical argument’ for death penalty

CBCP frowns on ‘Biblical argument’ for death penalty

In a pastoral statement, the Catholic bishops renewed their appeal for lawmakers to reject the bill reimposing the death penalty in the country. ROY LAGARDE

MANILA— The Catholic Church on Sunday issued a statement objecting to supposed misinterpretations and misuse of the Scriptures to argue for the death penalty.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines did not mention any politician or individual by name but said the use of the Bible to defend capital punishment is unnecessary.

“To the people who use the Bible to defend death penalty, need we point out how many other crimes against humanity have been justified, using the same Bible?” the bishops said in a pastoral letter.

“We humbly enjoin them to interpret the Scriptures properly, to read them as a progressive revelation of God’s will to humankind, with its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s definitive Word to the world,” they said.

‘First to cast a stone’

According to them, “Jesus was never an advocate of any form of legal killing”.

“He came ‘not to abolish the law but to bring it to fulfillment,’” they said. “He defended the adulterous woman against those who demanded her blood and challenged those who were without sin among them to be the first to cast a stone on her.”

The pastoral statement was read in Masses across the country on March 18, third Sunday of Lent.

It is also their second statement, as a collegial body, on the death penalty in less than a year. In September 2016, the bishops issued “ethical guidelines” on the matter.

On several, recent occasions, the country’s more than 90 active bishops rallied the faithful to protest the death penalty reimposition.

No guarantee of due process

The leaders of Asia’s biggest Catholic nation also lamented how the proposed measure was approved on second reading at the House of Representatives on Ash Wednesday.

It was “ironic”, the prelates noted, that many lawmakers were shouting in favor of death with their foreheads marked with ashen crosses.

“Could they have missed out the contradiction between their vote and the crosses on their foreheads, which were supposed to serve as a loud statement of faith in the God who, for love of us, chose to give up his life for our salvation, rather than see us perish?” they added.

The CBCP again warned that capital punishment and a flawed legal system are “always a lethal mix”, adding that the poor are likely to get punished more quickly because they cannot afford a good lawyer and a guarantee of due process.

Now that the battleground for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature kill bill has shifted to the Senate, the bishops asked the faithful to pray for the senators as they prepare to vote on the measure. CBCPNews