06/30/2006, 00.00
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Manila: "Mass for life" celebrates abolition of death penalty

Those who lobbied for the abolition of the death penalty participated in the event. The bishop of Pasig urged the faithful not to forget detainees, who need a new way of living their lives.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – People who lobbied for the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines wanted to "thank God for his help in undertaking this task" with a "mass for life", which was celebrated on 28 June in the parish of the mission centre of Our Lady of Remedies in Manila.

The function was celebrated by the bishop of Pasig, Mgr Francisco San Diego, vice-chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care. There were several MPs among the congregation, including the Republican, Edcel Lagman, the main author of the HB 4826 petition for abolition of the death penalty.

"Our wounds are now healed with the abolition of the death penalty," said the bishop in his homily. "Killing is against the work of Christ and nobody has the right to kill other people because life is a gift God gave us. The country is now moving from justice that kills to justice that heals. Only God has the right to take someone's life."

The bishop reminded the faithful of the situation in prisons. "We were aiming for the abolition of death penalty. I hope we'll still be united in helping those who are in prison, so they may have a new outlook on life."

The decision to abolish the death penalty was taken by the Filipino Congress on 7 June and the decree was signed in to law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 25 June.

There were 1,200 people on death row in the country, including at least 11 terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. When the bill passed into law, pending sentences were automatically commuted to life in prison. The Filipino government executed seven people between 1999 and 2000, but shortly afterwards, it declared a moratorium on executions, prompted to do so by the Catholic Church and the European Union.

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