23 June 2006 :a senior Vatican cardinal was quoted as saying that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein should not be executed because all life is sacred.
"Human life is always inviolable," Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Vatican's department for culture and inter-religious dialogue, was quoted as saying.
"Life is a gift and this is a universal principle and there are no exceptions," he reportedly said on the sidelines of a conference in Rome.
"Every human creature, even the most wretched, was created in the image and likeness of the Lord. God is the master of life and of death".
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that cases in which the death penalty is justified have become "rare if practically non-existent" in modern times. The Church says the death penalty can be inflicted only on very rare occasions when there is no other way of protecting human lives from an "unjust aggressor" who can continue to do harm.