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Vatican calls for abolition of death penalty in new hard-line stance

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On June 27, 2018, in Vatican City, Pope Francis during his Wednesday General audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/TNS)

ROME — Pope Francis on Thursday hardened the Catholic Church’s stance against the death penalty, with the church saying it will work “with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

The stance was enshrined in a newly formulated catechism released by the Vatican, which says the church teaches “that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

Previously, the catechism — the guiding principle of the Catholic Church — had not excluded the death penalty as a last resort.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good,” the statement said.

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes,” it continued.

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