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Pope Francis declares death penalty unacceptable

04 August 2018

Today, in fact, as a effect of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offence incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent".

Here in Louisiana, there's been a debate about the death penalty in recent weeks, after a federal judge approved a one-year extension to an order that has prevented the state from carrying out executions.

Pope Francis has updated the Catholic Church's catechism to deem the death penalty 'inadmissible;' a departure from the church's previous teachings.

Previous popes have had differing opinions.

But that is no longer the case, the Vatican announced on Thursday.

In the U.S., according to the Pew Research Service, public support for the death penalty has ticked up slightly since hitting a four-decade low in 2016, with 54 per cent approving of the punishment for those convicted of murder.

"First, we now have a clear, explicit contemporary example of church teaching changing, and also a look into how it can be done: with a papal change to the Catechism", it stated.

Pope Francis added that the church would work to ensure that death penalty was abolished all over the world, reported The Guardian. "Now, however, he has enshrined it in official Catholic teaching".

In some countries, however, politicians have made a notable push to revive it.

But on Thursday he went further by making a formal change to the universal catechism, or church teaching. "I expect it will come up".

Cupich said he believed that the church's categorical opposition to the death penalty could reinforce its teaching on abortion. Dianne Feinstein famously said, "The dogma lives loudly within you". The attitudes of Catholics mirror those of the United States, with 53 per cent favouring the death penalty. Among Catholics, the survey found that 53% of Catholics favor capital punishment, while 42% oppose it.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network in Washington, an advocacy group seeking to end the death penalty, called the news "a capstone teaching moment for the Catholic Church".

But many conservative Catholics took exception. Several prominent legal and political figures did not respond immediately for comment. Capital punishment was "in itself, contrary to the Gospel", he had said.

They also urged people to take action locally against capital punishment, calling on "people of goodwill to contact Nebraska state officials to stop the scheduled August 14 execution of Carey Dean Moore".

His successor, Benedict XVI, in a document published in November 2011, called on society's leaders "to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty".

Previously, the church allowed for the death penalty in very rare cases, only as a means of "defending human lives against the unjust aggressor". "People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church". He also wrote a detailed letter that year to the International Commission against the Death Penalty, arguing that capital punishment "does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance".

Pope Francis declares death penalty unacceptable