While praying with visitors in St. Peter’s Square on Feb. 21, Pope Francis made a passionate plea for a moratorium on executions during the Year of Mercy. The Holy Father reminded listeners that “Thou shalt not kill” (the fifth commandment) applies not only to the innocent but to the guilty as well.
Francis appealed to world leaders to reach an international consensus to end the death penalty. He also proposed to Catholic government leaders to “make a courageous and exemplary gesture by seeking a moratorium on executions during this Holy Year of Mercy.” The Year of Mercy began on Dec. 8, 2015, and will close on Nov. 20, 2016.
Pope Francis’ appeal for mercy also extended to those imprisoned. “All Christians and people of good will are called today to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also to improve the conditions of life in prison, in the respect of human dignity of people deprived of freedom,” Francis told the crowd.