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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Pakistan to debate relaxing infamous blasphemy law

A debate over the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law is set to begin next week. 

The law, which carries a death penalty for insulting anything related to Islam and the prophet Muhammad, is often used as a way to settle personal scores against Christians.

The law's been used to hold mother of five Asia Bibi on death row since 2010. 

She was arrested after an argument erupted between her and a group of Muslim women when they became angry at her for drinking the same water as them.

The group accused her of insulting Muhammad - a claim which she denies.

In December, a Christian shopkeeper was arrested and charged with blasphemy after page torn from the Qu'ran was found outside his house by a rival shop owner.

The Christian shopkeeper - who is illiterate - could face a death sentence.

In a move praised by human rights campaigners, Pakistani politicians will discuss ways to install checks and balance on the rules.

But Beth Fuller from Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors told Premier that any changes might not go far enough.

She said: "One of the changes that they have talked about making to these laws is to change the punishment from a mandatory death penalty to life imprisonment which is obviously still a very severe punishment.

"It's difficult to see how these laws could be changed significantly at the moment. But if they are we would welcome that and it would be fantastic to see the change it would make to lives of Christians in Pakistan."

Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according Open Doors.

Source: premier.org.uk, January 20, 2017

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