CNN reports that Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty, asking Catholic leaders to recognize the Year of Mercy by placing a moratorium on the practice for a year.
In St. Peter's Square, he said, "I make an appeal to the conscience of all rulers, so that we can achieve an international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty, and I propose to those among them who are Catholic to make a courageous and exemplary gesture: that no sentence is executed in this Holy Year of Mercy."
The pope's remarks come as an international conference on "A World Without the Death Penalty" begins in Rome on Monday. Ministers of justice from more than 30 countries will attend to discuss the issue.
Pope Francis hopes the conference will help efforts to end capital punishment. "The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty," he said.