The Pope has shifted the Catholic Church's stance on the death penalty, labelling it "inadmissible" in all cases.
In an official statement, the Vatican said that the punishment "attacks" the inherent dignity of all humans.
The pontiff changed the church's Catechism — the official Catholic teaching — the Vatican said Thursday.
It previously read that the church did not exclude resorting to capital punishment if it were "the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor".
Vatican's official statement
"The option of 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.
"Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.
"In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.
"Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
"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."