Pope Shifts Church On Death Penalty

Pope Francis says the death penalty can never be sanctioned because it "attacks the inherent dignity of all humans.

Pope Francis has changed church teaching about the death penalty, saying it can never be sanctioned because it "attacks" the inherent dignity of all humans.

The Vatican said on Thursday that Francis had changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church - the compilation of official Catholic teaching.

Previously, the catechism said the church didn't exclude recourse to capital punishment "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."

The new teaching says the previous policy is outdated and that there are other ways to protect society.

"Consequently the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide."