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Catholic Church changes teach­ing to oppose death penal­ty in all cas­es

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) — The Roman Catholic Church for­mal­ly changed its teach­ing on Thurs­day to declare the death penal­ty inad­mis­si­ble in all cir­cum­stances.

FILE PHOTO: Pope Fran­cis deliv­ers a speech after a meet­ing with Patri­archs of the church­es of the Mid­dle East at the St. Nicholas Basil­i­ca in Bari, south­ern Italy July 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Pho­to

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

The Vat­i­can said it had changed its uni­ver­sal cat­e­chism, a sum­ma­ry of Church teach­ing, to reflect Pope Fran­cis’ total oppo­si­tion to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.

Accord­ing to the new entry in the cat­e­chism, “the death penal­ty is inad­mis­si­ble because it is an attack on the invi­o­la­bil­i­ty and dig­ni­ty of the per­son”, it said, cit­ing an address by Pope Fran­cis.

The new pro­vi­sion is expect­ed to run into stiff oppo­si­tion from Catholics in coun­tries such as the Unit­ed States, where many Catholics sup­port the death penal­ty.

The change was enact­ed by the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith, which is the body respon­si­ble for pro­mul­gat­ing and defend­ing Catholic doc­trine.

Report­ing by Phil Pulel­la and Francesco Guaras­cio; Edit­ing by Kevin Lif­fey

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