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Torturing prisoners is “a very ugly thing,” says Pope

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on April 17, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/17/24

Torture is "contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity," the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms.

At the end of the general audience of April 17, Pope Francis prayed, as he usually does, for people suffering from war.

Today, he added a prayer for those suffering torture:

And our thoughts, of all of us, also go at this time to the peoples at war. We think of the Holy Land, Palestine, Israel. We think of Ukraine, the tormented Ukraine. We think of the prisoners of war: May the Lord move the will to set them all free.

And speaking of prisoners, those who are tortured come to mind. Torture of prisoners is a very ugly thing; it is not human. We think of so many tortures that hurt the dignity of the person, and so many tortured people. May the Lord help everyone and bless everyone.

Amnesty International gives the following information about torture:

Under international law, torture and other forms of ill-treatment are always illegal. They have been outlawed internationally for decades. To take just a couple of examples, 172 countries have adhered to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and 165 countries are parties to the UN Convention against Torture which Amnesty International campaigned hard to create.

But many states have failed to criminalize torture as a specific offence under their national laws, and governments around the world continue to defy international law by torturing people. Between January 2009 and May 2013, Amnesty International received reports of torture in 141 countries, from every region of the world.

The Catechism spells out the evil of torture, including it with kidnapping, terrorism and other evils.

2297Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputationsmutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

Human RightsPope FrancisPro-life
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