Death penalty: COLF writes to Prime Minister Harper

Monday, 19 December 2011
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The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Bldg
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty. In the wake of this vote, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family would like to invite the Government of Canada to reconsider its decision to cease intervening with foreign governments on behalf of Canadians who have been sentenced to death in foreign countries.

Like the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, we believe that the "life and dignity of each human person must be respected and protected without exception." While it is absolutely necessary to preserve the public order and to protect society against aggressors by punishing any criminal activity, we now have the possibility of doing so by non-lethal means. Such means further allow us to offer to convicts the help and encouragement that may lead them to rehabilitate and possibly become productive citizens.

Recourse to the death penalty presents the real danger of punishing the innocent and risks sliding towards the satisfaction of a desire for vengeance rather than the implementation of social justice. The recent UN resolution accurately reflects an increasingly widespread public aversion to the death penalty, as well as a growing awareness of the inherent value and inviolability of every human life.

Canadian citizens are more and more appreciative of the respect for human rights, beginning with the right to life. However, the death penalty is not only an obvious negation of the right to life, but also an affront to human dignity and, for Christians, an affront to the Gospel principle of forgiveness.


†Jean Gagnon
Bishop of Gaspé
Chairman of the Board