VATICAN CITY (UPDATE) - Pope Francis has declared the death penalty "inadmissible" in an update of Catholic believers' most important guide to Church teaching, the catechism, the Vatican announced Thursday.
"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'," the new text states.
Francis approved the change to the catechism, which covers a wide range of moral and social issues, during a meeting in May with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog.
The update also says that the Church will "work with determination" for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
"Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good," says the new text.
"Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."