Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Pope Francis called on world leaders Wednesday to take steps to end capital punishment, saying life is a fundamental right in humanity.
The pope made the remarks Wednesday in a video sent to the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Belgium this week.
The group fights capital punishment around the world through publications, teaching tools, public campaigns and lobbying efforts. Francis said all life should be considered sacred.
"While it is true that human societies and communities have to often face very serious crimes that threaten the common good and the safety of people, it is not less true that today there are other means to atone for the damage caused," he said.
"On the other hand, you can never abandon the conviction of offering even to criminals the possibility of repentance."
Wednesday was not the first time Pope Francis spoke out against the death penalty. He approved changes about the penalty to a compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.
"The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," the 2018 edition of the teaching stated. The pope said he made the change because the church defends life.
"For a long time, the death penalty was taken into account as an adequate response to the seriousness of some crimes and also to protect the common good," Francis said.
"However, the dignity of the person is not lost even if he has committed the worst of the crimes. No one can take his life and deprive him of the opportunity to embrace again the community he hurt and made suffer."