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Myanmar cardinal backs pope's opposition to death penalty

Bo says this stance should include opposition to violent sports and 'incremental' death sentences through victimization

Myanmar cardinal backs pope's opposition to death penalty

Cardinal Charles Bo says even those who have committed heinous crimes have a right to life. (Photo supplied)

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon in Myanmar has hailed Pope Francis' admonition that imposing the death penalty is always abominable.

The Catholic Church should never compromise its fundamental belief in the right to life, including on the issue of capital punishment, Cardinal Bo said in a statement released on Aug. 10.

"Even those who committed heinous crimes do have a right to life," he said.

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The cardinal said a pronouncement on the issue by Pope Francis was an affirmation of the Church adopting a moral stance.

On Aug. 2, the Vatican approved a change in the text of the Catholic catechism that previously accepted the death penalty as a "last recourse."

The new text acknowledges that the "dignity of a person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes."

Pope Francis maintains the death penalty is fundamentally against the teachings of Christ because it excludes the possibility of redemption, does not give justice to victims and feeds a mentality of vengeance.

Cardinal Bo, 70, in his statement elaborated that human slavery, discrimination and violent conflicts, as well as the abuse of women and children in the sex industry, could constitute a form of death sentences for victims.

He further complained that martial arts such as kick boxing unreasonably give rise to the legitimization of violence as sport and entertainment.

Civilized societies needed to move away from these barbarous sports that provoke violent behavior, especially in children, and could indirectly lead to mass killings, Cardinal Bo added.

The prelate said the courageous position adopted by Pope Francis against capital punishment should inspire governments and civil society groups around the world to strive for the banning of dangerous sports as well as curtailing "incremental death sentences" through victimization.

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