Pope Francis on Thursday called for the global abolition of the death penalty before lawmakers in the United States, where capital punishment is still practiced in several states.
"The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development," Francis said in his speech to Congress.
"This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred," he added.
"I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation."