For the abolition of torture

Jun 7, 2023 | Monthly Reflection

We pray that the international community may commit in a concrete way to ensuring the abolition of torture and guarantee support to victims and their families.

Pope Francis invites us this month to focus our attention on the abolition of torture, imploring God to soften the hearts and minds of those who are responsible for inflicting unnecessary pain upon men and women.

When St. John Paul II gazed at the miraculous Shroud of Turin in 1998, he not only saw the great suffering endured by the Man of the Shroud but also the effects of extreme torture.

“The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one’s fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age: of the countless tragedies that have marked past history and the dramas that continue to unfold in the world…How can we not recall with dismay and pity those who do not enjoy basic civil rights, the victims of torture and terrorism, the slaves of criminal organizations? By calling to mind these tragic situations, the Shroud not only spurs us to abandon our selfishness but leads us to discover the mystery of suffering, which, sanctified by Christ’s sacrifice, achieves salvation for all humanity.”

We too can look upon the Shroud and see the painful marks left by torture, reminding ourselves that this type of torture still occurs throughout the world today, though typically it is done in the dark, secret corners that are shielded from the light of faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly teaches that such torture is against the moral law and does not respect the dignity of the human person.

“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.” (CCC 2297)

While we may not possess the political power to enact legislation to end torture in our part of the world, we can do what we can to spread the seeds of love in our community and treat our own family and friends with greater respect.

God has made us all in our image and even when we have strayed from him, we still deserve the respect of a child of God.

Philip Kosloski
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)

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