On Thursday, August 2, 2018 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has declared the death penalty is “never admissible.” As reported by CNN, this is a change in the position of the Catholic Church, and has been added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Further, Pope Francis has stated that the Catholic Church will work to abolish the death penalty around the world.

This declaration from the spiritual leader is significant, bringing a great deal of attention to the issue, and may cause Catholics around the world, and in the US who had previously supported the use of the death penalty to reevaluate their stance.

Though it is new as an official position, the Pope has long been vocal in his opposition of capital punishment.  When speaking to Congress on a 2015 visit to the United States he stated that the belief that all human life must be defended led him “to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”

He went to say, “I am convinced that this is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

Currently the death penalty is legal in 31 US states, and in US federal court.