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Life or Death?

A Primer Calling for Commitment to Life
and the Abolition of the Death Penalty


So few issues in modern times have polarized people or the citizenry as the issue of capital punishment does.

For crimes heinous and unpardonable, death is the only just punishment, say the relatives sympathizers of the victims. No one has the right to take away life, not even the State in redress for detestable disturbance in social relationships, say those who believe and uphold the sanctity of human life, on the other hand. Opposing views, yet, the arguments of both sides or parties are valid for they speak from different viewpoints.

The Church has its own viewpoint regarding this very important issue. It believes and upholds the sanctity of life. It believes that only God can take away human life.

This primer makes known to the readers all reasons why the Church does not believe in capital punishment. The reasons are culled from the Bible and centuries of Christian tradition. They are drawn from Christian compassion and grace to forgive erring brothers and sisters. The reasons also come from the social context of crime. That society contributes much to the criminal environment. And these are what the Church wants the readers of this primer to see.



This primer discusses the many facets and angles why the Catholic Church opts for life and rejects capital punishment as the just and ultimate penalty even for so-called heinous crimes.

It starts off by stating that the Heart of the Good News is Life and proceeds to recall passages in the Sacred Scripture that prove that the Church's emphasis on a Gospel that respects and upholds life.

It then presents facts on the death penalty in this country and elsewhere. It also discusses the constitutionality of capital punishment. The Church's position vis-a-vis death penalty is presented historically.

The Primer then argues in behalf of the Church's present position regarding capital punishment and points out that there is no urgent nor moral need to impose the penalty in order that Philippine society may defend itself against its own criminal elements. This segment further argues that the imposition of the death penalty is not effective deterrent to crime. The Church prescribes that "instead of death, heinous criminals could be punished with life imprisonment without possibility of parole."

The Church also believes that death penalty had a procedural bias against the poor who are not capable because of economic and social status of hiring good lawyers to defend their cases.

The Church enjoins the readers to nurture the Christian value of forgiveness and to break the cycle of violence that prevails in our society. "... By taking a life through capital punishment, we do not reverse the cycle of violence. We do not even diminish it, we accelerate it... Capital punishment is the outward sign of an inward mindset that believes that the scales of justice can be balanced by violent means.

Finally, this Primer extols and upholds a culture of life prescribed in the unconditionally pro-life pronouncements of Pope John Paul II, and rejects the culture of death that prevails in our country today.

Chairman, CBCP-ECPPC


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