The execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday has been greeted with sadness and regret by the Vatican. After the death sentence was passed on Thursday, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department, appealed for clemency for the fallen leader of Iraq. The former papal envoy to the United Nations said there was "no doubt" that Saddam was responsible for mass murders, but that did not change the Church's opposition to capital punishment. He said: "You can't think of compensating for one crime with another one." After the execution took place Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "A capital punishment is always tragic news, a reason for sadness, even if it deals with a person who was guilty of grave crimes... "The killing of the guilty party is not the way to reconstruct justice and reconcile society. On the contrary, there is a risk that it will feed a spirit of vendetta and sow new violence. "In these dark times for the Iraqi people, one can only hope that all responsible parties truly make every effort so that glimmers of reconciliation and peace can be found in such a dramatic situation."
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