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30 August 2020 10:37

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The Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia says that even in the face of a heinous crime such as Rape, the death sentence is ultimately not a solution. English Africa Service - Vatican City This week, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia released a statement in which they raised concerns about the worrying trend of violence in their country. The dignity of the human person In a statement released on behalf of other Bishops, CABICOL President, Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah of the Diocese of Gbarnga, said that while the Church did not condone the 'diabolical act of violence' perpetrated against women and children, the death penalty was ultimately not the solution becasue violence cannot drive out violence. "In as much as we strongly condemn this nefarious act (of Rape), the death penalty cannot serve as a remedy to this problem. As Bishops of the Catholic Church, we uphold the teaching of the Church as contained in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in number 2267 which states that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," The Bishops said.

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There have been growing calls from anti-rape campaigners and some senior members of Liberian society for severe punishments, to include the death penalty, for perpetrators of Rape. On 16 July 2008, the Liberian Senate re-introduced the death penalty for armed-robbery, hijacking and terrorism. Activists now want the death penalty extended to the crime of Rape. A disturbing culture of militancy among party cadres The Bishops, in their statement, also address themselves to the wider problem of violence in Liberian society particularly political violence. As the country prepares of the 8 December referendum and senatorial elections the Bishops warn against the tragic institutionalisation of violence, hate speech and a culture militancy among party cadres.

"Sadly, our cry (May 2019 statement) got little attention as violence seems to be perpetrating itself ad infinitum. Again, we call on political actors and their followers to refrain from violence," the Bishops plead with Liberians. COVID-19: Heed the advice of health experts The Bishops nonetheless commend the Government, medical personnel, members of the joint security services, the media and cooperating partners for efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. While noting the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the economy, they urge their compatriots to adhere to the advice health of experts in preventing contagion. "There is therefore the need to continue to follow the basic health protocols of washing of hands, wearing of face masks and social distancing until a definite global solution is found," said the Liberian Bishops. Spread This News By Vatican News THE British episcopate praises the courageous pastoral letter of the Bishops of Zimbabwe for defending the dignity and fundamental human rights as the country faces unprecedented crises. "Christians across the globe have been inspired by the courage the Zimbabwean Church has shown in defending fundamental human dignity and rights," declared Bishop Declan Lang, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. He said the English and Welsh Bishops are offering prayers for, and standing in solidarity with, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare and his brother Bishops in Zimbabwe. "The March is Not Ended" Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's Bishops issued a pastoral letter entitled "The March is Not Ended" which laments the "crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses among other crises in urgent need of resolution." The letter also notes the crackdown on dissent that began in August following demonstrations against the current government. In his statement, Bishop Lang – who serves as Chair of the Bishops' Conference's Department of International Affairs – said, "The recent pastoral letter with its call for truth, justice and reconciliation is both a powerful witness to the suffering that Zimbabwe is enduring and a way forward for the country to emerge from this." Broad-based solidarity In recent weeks, the bishops and people of Zimbabwe have received support from numerous sources, including expressions of solidarity from Zimbabwe's Evangelical community and from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, as well as an ecumenical pastoral letter from the World Council of Churches (WCC). Following government criticism of the Zimbabwean bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe, Archbishop Paolo Rudelli paid a solidarity visit to Archbishop Ndlovu, who had been singled out in a blistering personal attack. The Nuncio's visit was also a symbolic act of solidarity with all the Zimbabwean Bishops. The deep concern of diplomats Foreign diplomats serving in Zimbabwe have also expressed "deep concern with the current political, economic, social and health crisis that Zimbabweans are facing today." In a statement issued on Friday, the heads of missions from the United States, Britain, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland argued that "Covid-19 must not be used as an excuse to restrict citizens' fundamental freedoms." Instead, they urge the government "to address corruption and the illicit extraction of Zimbabwe's wealth for personal gain, which continues to undermine Zimbabwe's development."

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