What a strange era is the one in which we live, which has had to formulate a new commandment that God had not even thought of when he imparted the Tables of the Law to Moses ! Thou shalt not torture. It is, in fact, because torture is being practiced today, and on such a large scale ; it is, in fact, because there is a need to awaken our consciences...so little tortured by the existence of torture.
Torture is full development throughout the world. In certain countries it has been institutionalized ; it has become a way of governing, camouflaged as psychiatric treatment or as national security slogans. One has invented refined systems in order to torture "cleanly" without leaving a trace. The export market sees as much sophisticated material for torture being exported as it does household equipment. Next to this rationalization of torture, the Inquisition, according to Pierre Emmanuel, was nothing but a nursery tale.
Our minds unfortunately become used to looking at the most monstrous things. First one refuses to believe them and then one reacts in jerks, bit by bit, or weakly. Soon, one is sliding down an incline made of all the desertions, of all the complicities. The least sign by which we look down on a fellow human can, from slight to slight, turn us into an impassive and even smiling torturer.
A strange period, this one of ours, which can brag about torture being forbidden by constitutions and by universal declarations and which is dumbfounded to learn that it is proliferating under the most subtle pseudo-justifications ! Pope Paul VI spoke of it as a dangerous "epidemic". "Torture, he said, is to be condemned absolutely, it is never admissible, not even under the pretext of exercising justice or defending public order..." we must radicalize the combat against torture, not accept half measures, make it a matter of principle to denounce torture whatever the motive and in wherever it is practiced.
A magnificent mission is calling Christians to the forefront of the struggle for the abolition of torture. With the same impetus that other generations combatted slavery. But we must be aware that this evil is like a hydra with seven heads. It grows up again quickly, everywhere, in ourselves.
Courage and perseverance.