Primate urges PM to change position on death penalty

By on March 1, 2008

The Anglican Church of Canada has expressed its “grave concern” over the federal government’s announcement last October that Canada would no longer object to the imposition of the death penalty on Canadians under foreign jurisdictions.

“We call on the government of Canada to reverse its present stance and to intervene strenuously with other governments when Canadians face a sentence of execution, as has been the practice in the past,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate (national archbishop) of the Anglican Church of Canada, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Jan. 29.

Archbishop Hiltz said “the decision constitutes a serious departure from Canada’s historic efforts to seek clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in foreign countries.”

The federal government said last fall it would not seek clemency for Ronald Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

“The Anglican Church of Canada affirms the sacredness of all human life as God’s gift to creation,” wrote Archbishop Hiltz. “We believe every human being is made in God’s image, regardless of the degree to which it has been distorted. We oppose the death penalty in every circumstance as an act of violence in response to violence – an act which strikes at the very heart of society.”

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