The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has released a new publication. Confronting the Death Penalty: People, politics and principle, will be launched by Archbishop John Bathersby

at 12 noon on Thursday 20 December at St Joseph’s Church, cnr Oxley Rd and Clewley St, Corinda in Brisbane. The launch will be attended by the parents and friends of Scott Rush, one of the Australians facing the possibility of execution in Indonesia.

Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, has emphasised the importance of this paper to the recent debate in Australia and overseas on the pressing issue of capital punishment.

‘Our opposition to capital punishment cannot end at our national borders. The dignity and sanctity of all human life must be respected in all circumstances. Every person, whatever their citizenship shares the most fundamental right – the right to life.

‘The values upon which the death penalty is to be opposed are such that no exceptions should be made at home or abroad’, Bishop Saunders said.

Four authors have contributed essays to this paper. Dr Michael Costigan examines the moral and historical dimensions of the death penalty relating to Catholic social teaching. Mr Brian Deegan describes his grief over the loss of his son in the Bali bombing and his conviction that the death penalty is inhuman, even for his son’s murderers. Fr Peter Norden SJ speaks of his community’s support for the family of Van Tuong Nguyen, who was executed in Singapore. Professor Andrew Byrnes examines the legal implications of the death penalty and the attitudes of Australian police, governments and political parties.

‘We hope that this paper will direct attention once more to Australia’s response to the use of the death penalty by countries in our region. In addition to opposing capital punishment in Australia and intervening on behalf of its citizens who are exposed to the penalty in other jurisdictions, we urge the federal government to work energetically with our neighbours for the abolition of the death penalty in our region’, Bishop Saunders concluded.