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Pope Seeks End To Death Penalty

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI voiced support Wednesday for political actions around the world aimed at eliminating the death penalty, reflecting his stance as an opponent of capital punishment.

He made the comments during his weekly public audience to participants at a meeting being promoted by the Catholic Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life."

He said he hopes "your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty."

Benedict, like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, has appealed for commutation in a number of death penalty cases, many in the United States.

In the late 1990s, the Roman Catholic church hardened its opposition to the death penalty in a revised statement of its teaching. It said the death penalty is permissible only in the narrowest of circumstances, and only when there is no other way to protect the public.

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