Pope Francis has said that the death penalty was inadmissible in all cases, and has changed the Catholic Church’s teachings to fully reject it, the Vatican announced on Thursday. The teachings summed up in the Catechism, which previously said death penalty could be used in selective cases, now say that it is “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, reported BBC.
Pope Francis added that the church would work to ensure that death penalty was abolished all over the world, reported The Guardian.
According to a statement from the Vatican, the church earlier viewed the death penalty as an “appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good” if it was “carried out by a legitimate authority after a fair trial”. It now said there was more awareness around the world that the dignity of the person was not lost even after “the commission of very serious crimes”. It added that more effective systems of detention could ensure the protection of citizens without depriving “the guilty of the possibility of redemption”.
In the past, Pope Francis has spoken out against executions. In October 2017, he said that the church’s policy on death penalty could change with modern concerns. He had called the punishment an “inhuman measure” that “heavily wounds human dignity”, according to The Washington Post.
According to Amnesty International data, 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan account for 87% of global executions, according to The Guardian. India also retains death penalty and currently has 400 prisoners under the sentence of death, shows a project report by the National Law University, Delhi.