Though the Church “continues to maintain that the legitimate authorities of state have the duty to protect society from aggressors,” the declaration explained that in the modern world, the death penalty is difficult to justify. The Holy See’s declaration, originally in French, states: “The Paris congress is being celebrated at a time in which, because of recent executions, the campaign against the death penalty is facing new and disquieting challenges.

“Public opinion has become sensitized and has expressed its concern for a more effective recognition of the inalienable dignity of human beings, and of the universality and integrity of human rights, beginning with the right to life.

“The Holy See takes this opportunity to welcome and affirm once more its support for all initiatives that aim to defend the inherent value and inviolability of all human life, from conception to natural end.”

The statement continued: “In this perspective, it is worth noting that the use of the death penalty is not just a negation of the right to life, but also an affront to human dignity.”

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