News archive 2006

Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Social Affairs statement on the death sentence imposed on Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi High Tribunal






“Let us pray for a satisfactory and speedy end to armed hostilities in the
country and region” – Bishop Field

The chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs
(ICJSA), Bishop Raymond Field, today disagreed with the verdict of death by hanging
which has been imposed on Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.

Bishop Field said: “I disagree with the Iraqi High Tribunal’s verdict, on Sunday, of
the death sentences imposed on Saddam Hussein and some of his colleagues. While the
court found him guilty of crimes against humanity for ordering hundreds of Shias
killed or tortured in the town of Dujail in 1982, it is contrary to the common good
that he and his colleagues should be executed in this case.”

Bishop Field continued: “I fully endorse the words of the President of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, who said on Vatican Radio
yesterday evening: ‘I am reacting as I react to any death sentence. You cannot punish
the crime with another crime, because the death sentence is a crime. Although it is
the State who discerns it, the State is not the owner of the life of its citizens.
Life is a gift from the moment of conception to the natural end, so a death sentence
is not a natural end. I say that because John Paul II in [his 1995 Encyclical Letter]
Evangelium Vitae, said that, now, today, society has all the means to render a criminal
innocuous without applying the death sentence. And so, in particular to the situation
in Iraq, I don’t think that it will make better the situation in that country.’”

Bishop Field concluded: “It is clear from the public response to the Tribunal’s verdict
that its decision has further polarised Shia and Sunni Iraqis. Furthermore, society
in Iraq has never been more dysfunctional and those who suffer most in these circumstances
are ordinary Iraqi people. Let us remember in our prayers those who have suffered
injury and death during this conflict, from all sides, and let us pray also for a
satisfactory and speedy end to armed hostilities in the country and region”.


Notes for Editors:

* Log on to for more information on the Irish Commission
for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA).

* The ICJSA is a Commission of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. It was launched by
Dr Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, on 13 June 2005.

* The ICJSA is chaired by Dr Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin. The
Commission is part of the Department of Social Issues and International Affairs
of the Irish Bishops’ Conference which is chaired by Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop
of Dublin.

* The role of the ICJSA is to support the Irish Bishops’ Conference in promoting
the social teaching of the Church and to advise on issues of social concern both
nationally and internationally.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)

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