Karol Wojtila changed many things as Pope. He made several questions and answered many of them. One remained unanswered. Why John Paul II, so committed to the fetus’ life, did not commit himself the same way to save the lives of those already on the earth? He never declared himself against the death penalty.
Two main elements inherited from his pontificate show his interest for medicine and bioethics: the encyclical Evangelium vitae on the worth of human life (1995) and the foundation of the Pontifical Academy for Life within the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The mission of its 130 members is to support the pope on bioethical issues. The protection of the individual human life begins in the moment in which the ovule and the sperm unite. This was the dogma that served as the basis to all his answers on the issue. Under his pontificate, the official Catholic and Roman Church openly declared itself against abortion and therapeutic or reproductive cloning. The encyclical Evangelium vitae was a call to each and everyone in the name of God: “Dear, protect and love life and serve it.”
Despite all debates, I have never understood the existence of the contradiction which led the Pope not to declare himself in favor of the elimination of the death penalty. The same encyclical states, when addressing the sanctions, that the death penalty should be the last option when the protection of the society demands it. In Austria, abortion is authorized even in an advanced state of pregnancy but a genetic test in an eight cells embryo is forbidden. Solving these contradictions would be good for the pope and the legislators.

Die Presse (Austria)

«Die Kirche, das Leben und die Todesstrafe», by Markus Hengstschlager, Die Presse, April 21, 2005.