Pope Francis has decided to change the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on death penalty, by declaring it as “inadmissible” and encouraging his Bishops across the world to push for its abolition, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The Catechism of the Church, which sums up the teachings, previously stated that death penalty could be used in some cases. But it now called the death term “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, the BBC reported.
The Holy See communicated the Pope’s revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty to Bishops worldwide in an official letter.
The church previously viewed the death penalty, carried out by a legitimate authority after a fair trial, as an “appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good”, according to the Vatican statement.
“This development centres principally on the clearer awareness of the Church for the respect due to every human life,” it said.
Pope Francis has previously spoken out against the death penalty, saying last year it “heavily wounds human dignity” and is an inhuman measure. Capital punishment was “in itself, contrary to the Gospel”, he had said.
But on Thursday the Pope went further by making a formal change to the universal catechism.
The move puts the Pope at odds with US President Donald Trump, who in March advocated the death penalty for drug dealers. Trump had also called for terrorists and “perverts” to be put to death.
According to Amnesty International, 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016. Four countries account for 87 per cent of global executions: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.