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Pope calls on international leaders to abolish death penalty

Pope Francis delivers his message from his studio window yesterday (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis has called again for the abolition of the death penalty calling on “the consciences of government leaders” to join the “international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty.”

During his general audience yesterday, Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to the practice, saying that “all Christians and people of good will are called today to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty.”

He then addressed Catholics leaders directly requesting that during the Year of Mercy they do not authorise any form of capital punishment.

Rome is currently hosting an international convention for the abolition of death penalty promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community, entitled “For a world without the death penalty.”

The Pope said: “I hope that this symposium can give a renewed impulse to efforts for the abolition of capital punishment.”

He said growing opposition to the death penalty, even as an instrument of legitimate social defence, was a sign of hope.

Modern society, he explained has the means of fighting crime without definitively taking from criminals the possibility of redemption.

He placed the question of capital punishment within the context of a system of justice that continues to conform more closely “to the dignity of man and the design of God for and for society.”

“The commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’,” Pope Francis said, “has absolute value, and concerns both the innocent and the guilty,” and even criminals “maintain the inviolable right to life, the gift of God.”