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  1. ITV Report

Pope Francis calls for worldwide ban on the death penalty

Pope Francis in St Peter's Square at the Vatican today Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis called for a worldwide ban on the death penalty today.

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, he said the commandment "you shall not kill" was just as valid for the guilty as for the innocent.

Addressing Catholic politicians, the 79-year-old said: "I appeal to the consciences of those who govern to reach an international consensus to abolish the death penalty."

For centuries the 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church allowed the death penalty in extreme cases, but the position began changing under the late Pope John Paul, who died in 2005.

The commandment 'you shall not kill' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty

– Pope Francis