Pope: Catholic guide needs updating on death penalty issue

Pope Francis gives his thumb up at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11 2017. (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has marked the 25th anniversary of a landmark compilation of Catholic teaching by saying it should be updated to address an issue close to his heart: the death penalty.

Francis on Wednesday repeated his insistence that capital punishment is "inadmissible" under any circumstance. He says the death penalty violates the Gospel and amounts to the voluntary death of a human life, which "is always sacred in the eyes of the creator."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued a quarter century ago to give Catholics an easy, go-to guide for church teaching, allows for the death penalty. While saying its need is increasingly rare "if not practically non-existent," the Catechism says capital punishment is permissible if it's the only way to defend life against an "unjust aggressor."

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