One May Be Opposed to the Use of the Death Penalty and Still Not Terribly Cheered by the Vote of the United Nations General Assembly in Favor of a Global Moratorium against It

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One may be opposed to the use of the death penalty and still not terribly cheered by the vote of the United Nations General Assembly in favor of a global moratorium against it. John Allen writes that it may be too much to say the vote was "a victory for the Catholic Church," but it is "difficult to imagine without the Catholic contribution." The campaign for the vote was pressed and coordinated by the Community of Sant'Egidio, a movement within the Church, and greatly assisted by the Holy See mission at the U.N. and by key players in mainly Catholic countries. A nonbinding resolution of the General Assembly is, well, very nonbinding. But supporters of the resolution say it "establishes a new moral consensus among nations" and puts nations who use the death penalty on the moral spot. The vote was 104 nations in favor, 54 (including the United States) opposed, 29 abstaining, and 5 not present. So 104 voted for the resolution and 88 did not. I suppose it depends on the meaning of consensus. As it happens, 90 nations have already officially abolished capital punishment and 43 are said to have done so "de facto" by virtue of not executing anyone in at least ten years. So it seems that the 104 countries favoring the moratorium are 29 fewer than those that have officially or unofficially abolished capital punishment. Allen interviewed a spokesman for Sant'Egidio who said the campaign got a big boost from Renato Cardinal Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who said in a public statement, "The death penalty is homicide." The spokesman notes, rectly, that "that has never been said at such a high level before. …