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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases “because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a major shift in Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in…


ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases “because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a major shift in Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.

Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compendium of Catholic beliefs.

The pontiff, who is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, said the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.

Previously, the catechism allowed the death penalty in some cases, if it was “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor,” even if in reality “cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The new teaching acknowledges that there are new ways to protect society.

“There is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes,” it says.

“In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.”

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