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'Cities for Life' say no to the death penalty

(Vatican Radio) Over 1,600 cities are gearing up to say ‘Yes’ to life and ‘No’ to the death penalty, as part of an annual initiative organized by the Rome-based St Egidio community. Begun over a decade ago to raise awareness about the campaign to end capital punishment worldwide, the ‘Cities for Life’ event now includes marches, meetings and symbolic events in cities right across the globe.

Here in Rome the three-day programme featured a meeting at the Italian parliament on Thursday, an international summit of Justice Ministers on Friday and will conclude with a ceremony for the lighting up of the Colosseum on Saturday November 30th.

While the list of countries abolishing, suspending, or commuting death sentences continues to increase, there has also been a number of nations – Gambia, Japan, India, Pakistan and Iraq - that have reintroduced or increased executions over the past year.

Among the goals of the St Egidio initiative is to highlight the Church’s care and concern for the dignity of all people in prison, especially those on death row. Among those bringing powerful, personal stories of serving as lay chaplain to prisoners on death row in Florida is lawyer, author and activist Dale Recinella. He shares some of those stories with Philippa Hitchen....