The pope suggests abolishing the death penalty
While pop queen Beyoncé is out making bold, beautiful and undeniably controversial strides opposing police brutality and unsettling the established white power mentality, her global equivalent Pope Francis is also making major waves in the Christian community and beyond.
Although the pope can’t pop and lock in his old age, he’s making a bold statement that should be taken seriously worldwide. The Jesuit gave a speech Sunday to the Vatican exemplifying a major principle in the Christian faith.
“The commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ has absolute value and concerns both the innocent and the guilty,” Francis said.
For what it’s worth, the pope is spot on with this decree. Despite what many conservative Bible thumpers might sway you to believe, the Christian faith as seen through Jesus of Nazareth is actually about peace and love. It wasn’t founded on capricious gay hate and killing the criminals. As the pope pointed out, it’s in the very Ten Commandments that both the Jews and Christians follow, the don’t-kill-people-dammit-rule (not to paraphrase God here, but I’d like to think he face-palms quite a lot).
Urging all world governments to abolish the death penalty is a major play in today’s heightened climate because the pope, by issuing this plea for peace, has opened himself up for critiques among other church leaders and public leaders around the world who may be opposed.
This is nothing new. Due to the pope’s more progressive and compassionate stances on immigration lately, it has attracted more conservative leaders — ironically enough, such as presidential candidate Donald Trump — like a shark to chum. After the pope criticized Trump for not being Christian and being too quick to build walls, not bridges, Trump, not taking it too kindly, said some not-so-nice things to the leader of the Roman Catholic church. And, it’s an unspoken rule that you don’t sass the pope.
As the U.S. prison system is being exposed more through media, such as in popular Netflix documentary series and through pop icons, the pope is joining in the endless voices to reform one of the biggest and most corrupt criminal justice systems in the world.
“All Christians and people of goodwill are called today to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty,” Francis said, “but also in order to improve prison conditions, in respect for human dignity of persons deprived of liberty.”
In the past, as with anybody making radical new waves in an establishment as heavily dated and influential as the Catholic Church, there are the silencers who try to keep things the same, the way conniving gatekeepers do. In the early ‘90s, when Pope John Paul I made similar strides for radical change in the church, it’s widely theorized that John Paul was assassinated by the Vatican itself to keep things in order. Although the Internet serves as a major accountability tool in today’s modern era, Francis is making heavy changes — wonderful changes, mind you — that could result in more conservative church leaders deviating and, once again, stifling change. Let’s hope that the emphasis on “Thou shalt not kill” is felt in all the hearts of those Christians and people of goodwill.