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Pope Benedict XVI praises efforts to ban the death penalty30 Nov

Catholic News Service reports that during his weekly audience on November 30, Pope Benedict praised those who are working to abolish the death penalty.

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI gave a special greeting of encouragement to delegations meeting in Rome — including a group from Illinois — to promote the abolition of the death penalty.

During his weekly audience Nov. 30 at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said he hoped the work of the delegations would “encourage political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a number of countries to eliminate the death penalty” and promote progress in penal law that speaks equally to “the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

The 12-person Illinois group, members of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, was led by state Rep. Karen Yarbrough. Under Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty in March.

Following the audience, Yarbrough told Catholic News Service that the papal audience represented a capstone to an intense year of efforts that paid off with legislation banning capital punishment in Illinois.

The Nov. 29-30 Rome meeting, sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community, encouraged people in cities around the world to join a public demonstration of opposition to the death penalty. In Rome, for example, the Colosseum was to be lit up Nov. 30 to show the city’s adherence to the initiative.

Yarbrough said that “lighting the Colosseum, once a place of death, means a lot.”

Kentucky has a system in place that risks executing the innocent and is often unfairly applied. In addition 67% of Kentuckians actually prefer the use of prison sentences over executions. The Catholic Conference hopes visitors to this page will contact Gov. Steve Beshear and their Kentucky legislators and ask them to replace the death penalty and use life without parole to respect “the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

More information about Kentucky and the death penalty is found at the website of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty of which the Catholic Conference is an active member.

Photo: Courtesy Vatican Website

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