Pope Francis: Let's Abolish Life Sentences They are nothing more than a 'hidden death penalty,' he says By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Oct 23, 2014 3:55 PM CDT 206 comments Comments A gust of wind hits Pope Francis as he leaves St. Peter's Square on Oct. 22. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Newser) – That Pope Francis spoke out today against capital punishment is no big surprise. But he made headlines by coming out against life sentences as well, reports the Guardian. In a speech to the International Association of Penal Law, the pope urged all "people of good will" to fight for the abolishment of the death penalty and the improvement of prison conditions in general. "And this, I connect with life imprisonment," he said, as quoted by the Catholic News Service. "Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty." The Vatican, he noted, recently removed life imprisonment from its own penal code. Francis also condemned extraordinary rendition, a practice used by the CIA in which suspects are taken to secretive foreign prisons without a trial, reports the Huffington Post. Modern society, he added, is under the delusion that the "most varied social problems can be resolved through public punishment" instead of through genuine social and economic reform.