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Pope presses for global ban on death penalty

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, fresh off a tour of Mexico that stopped at America’s border and pressed for more U.S. embrace of illegals and refugees, has now turned attention to the death penalty, and in an address aimed at the world, called for the abolition of the punitive measure.

He called specifically on politicians of Catholic faith to offer up “a courageous and exemplary gesture” by pressing for a halt to executions during the Holy Year, a Church-based declaration that ends in November.

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“I appeal to the consciences of those who govern to reach an international consensus to abolish the death penalty,” he said, during his St. Peter’s Square address, Reuters reported. “The commandment ‘you shall not kill’ has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty.”

The Catholic Church, which touts 1.2 billion members, has given the thumbs-up to the death penalty for hundreds of years, but shifted its views under Pope John Paul, who died in 2005.

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An international conference against capital punishment opens Monday in Rome. The pope’s comments were timed to thrown in Church support behind the event, which is sponsored by the Sant Egidio Community, a group dedicated to peace and justice, Reuters reported.

He also said, the news outlet reported: “[There is now] a growing opposition to the death penalty even for the legitimate defense of society [because there are modern ways to] efficiently repress crime without definitively denying the person who committed it the possibility of rehabilitating themselves.”