Prosecutor's death penalty stance offends Vatican official

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Vatican official has encouraged an Ohio prosecutor to go to confession after defying the Catholic Church’s new policy that the death penalty is never acceptable.

Paul Mueller, a vice director at the Vatican Observatory, wrote a letter weeks ago to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (DEE’-turs) saying he was scandalized that Deters would use his office to “oppose and confuse the teachings of the Church.”

Deters, a Catholic, has been pursuing the death penalty in the resentencing case of a convicted serial killer.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty. The policy previously said the Catholic Church would consider capital punishment if it was the only way to defend human lives.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Deters’ office.