The bishop said that every execution is a violation of the innate dignity of the human person

The Bishop of Clifton has reiterated his call for the Church to work for the complete abolition of the death penalty.

Bishop Declan Lang, who head the English and Welsh bishops’ department for international affairs said that while he welcomed the news that worldwide use of the death penalty had decreased, there was still “much more progress to be made.”

In a statement released today he said: “More than 1,000 people were executed last year – they are not just statistics. Every execution is a violation of the innate dignity of the human person and we must continue to heed Pope Francis’ call to work for complete global abolition.

“I am encouraged by the UK government’s continued opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances, as recently reiterated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Now is a critical moment for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to actively prioritise its work in this area and help continue the trend towards a world without executions.

“As the UK establishes new economic relationships outside the EU, it is also more important than ever that we use trade agreements as an opportunity to promote human rights, including abolition of this inhumane and indefensible punishment.”

In an article for The Universe last year, Bishop Declan Lang said that during the Year of Mercy Catholics should commit themselves to seeking an end to executions everywhere.

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has also repeated his plea for a world free from capital punishment.

In a message to a world conference against the death penalty last year in Oslo, Pope Francis said capital punishment “contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice” and said that growing opposition to the practice is a “sign of hope.”