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DEATH PENALTY: “No Punishment Without Hope”

Pope Francis, in a message sent to an international anti-death penalty event last June, condemned the use of the death penalty, saying it fosters vengeance and does not bring justice to the victims of crime.

"The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty," the Pope said via a message sent to the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty held in Oslo, Norway. "It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal," the Pontiff said according to Catholic News Service.

Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church's stance on the use of the death penalty which can only be applied "if this is the only possible way" of protecting lives from an unjust aggressor.

The Pope also called up those attending the Oslo event to work toward humanizing prison conditions "so that they fully respect the human dignity of those incarcerated" and encourage the rehabilitation of offenders.

"There is no fitting punishment without hope" Pope Francis said. "Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment."

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