Pope changes teaching to oppose death penalty in all cases

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ROME, Italy

Pope Francis has said the death penalty is “inadmissible” and that the Catholic church would work for its abolition across the world.

Capital punishment was “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, Francis said in a change to Catholic teaching.

According to a statement from the Vatican, the Catholic 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”,

But it said there was an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person was not lost even after “the commission of very serious crimes”.

More effective systems of detention could ensure the protection of citizens without depriving “the guilty of the possibility of redemption”.

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 said.

But on Thursday he went further by making a formal change to the universal catechism, or church teaching.

The move puts the pope at odds with Donald Trump, who in March advocated the death penalty for drug dealers. The US president has also called for terrorists and “perverts” to be put to death.