Pope Francis calls for global abolition of the death penalty

'Thou shall not kill applies to the guilty as well as the innocent', he said

Baku. 22 February. REPORT.AZ/ Pope Francis has called on Catholic leaders to seek a ban on the death penalty exclaiming that 'Thou shall not kill applies to the guilty as well as the innocent'.

Report informs referring to the foreign media, speaking to thousands at St. Peter's Square, in the Vatican, the Pontiff asked politicians around the world to make 'a courageous and exemplary gesture' during the Church's current Holy Year.

He said: 'I appeal to the consciences of those who govern to reach an international consensus to abolish the death penalty.

'The commandment 'You shall not kill,' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty.'

The 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church allowed the death penalty in extreme cases for centuries, but the position began to change under the late Pope John Paul, who died in 2005.

The pope added that there was now 'a growing opposition to the death penalty even for the legitimate defence of society' because modern means existed to 'efficiently repress crime without definitively denying the person who committed it the possibility of rehabilitating themselves.'

Francis made the comments to throw his weight behind an international conference against the death penalty starting on Monday in Rome and organised by the Sant'Egidio Community, a worldwide Catholic peace and justice group.

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