VATICAN CITY, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Pope Francis condemned capital punishment and called for a worldwide ban on the death penalty in his Sunday address in St. Peter's Square.
The pope urged Christian leaders to work to stop executions as part of the church's Holy Year of Mercy, which started Dec. 8, and said Christian leaders should work to ensure no executions are carried out during the period, which ends Nov. 20. His message also came on the eve of an international conference for the abolishment of the death penalty in Rome.
"Indeed, modern societies have the ability to deal with crime without removing permanently to the one who has committed a chance to redeem himself. The problem must be viewed in the context of a penal justice ever more in conformity to the dignity of man and to God's plan for man and society and also to a criminal justice open to the hope of reintegration into society," he said. "The commandment 'You shall not kill' has absolute value and covers both the innocent that the culprit."