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Korean bishops light up shrine against death penalty

SEOUL (UCAN): The Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine Justice was illuminated in yellow, blue and green during a lighting ceremony attended by civil and religious groups on November 30. The Justice and Peace Commission of the South Korean Bishops’ Conference spearheaded the push for a martyrs’ shrine at what was once an execution site where scores of Korean Catholics were decapitated to highlight the Catholic community’s opposition to the continued use of the death penalty in the country.
The name of the shrine literally means “Mountain of Beheading.”
The slogan attached to one of the walls reads, Life Peace, Abolitionist Country Korea, Abolition of Death Penalty.
“Sadly, people’s awareness of the death penalty has barely grown despite the Church’s efforts to abolish this form of punishment,” said Sister Jean Marc Cho Sung-ai, from the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres.
“Many people think inmates on death row deserve to die for their crimes, but most of them come from poor families and are not well educated. Society must accept some of the responsibility for not giving them the chance to grow up with a proper education, so we cannot lay all of the blame for their brutal crimes at their feet,” she said.
Sister Cho, hailed as a “godmother” by many waiting to be executed by the state for theie crimes, said, “Now is the time for the government to abolish capital punishment.”
The Korean bishops chose November 30 as it commemorates the day when Pietro Leopoldo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, abolished the death penalty in 1786.
The bishops’ committee has held similar lighting protests at various venues in Seoul including Myeongdong Cathedral, City Hall, and Seodaemun Prison History Museum since 2006.
So far, the government has not issued any official response.

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