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Pope Francis: Death Penalty Is 'Inadmissible'

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Lookups for inadmissible spiked on August 2, 2018, following the announcement from the Vatican of the Catholic church’s official position on the death penalty. The Vatican released a statement taken from an address made by Pope Francis last October:

"Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

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Photo: Alfredo Borba

The word's use has always been in legal contexts.

Inadmissible means “not admissible,” more specifically “not capable of being allowed or conceded” or “not permissible.” Its use has always been in legal contexts; Noah Webster (who was a lawyer as well as a lexicographer) added the usage “inadmissible testimony” in his American Dictionary of 1828. The context is shown in our current entry with “inadmissible evidence.”

An early use of inadmissible shows political context:

That his Imperial Majesty explaining and expressing once for all his lawful resentment, agreeable to the constitutions of the empire, and not being able in consequence of his office of Emperor, declaring from the fullness of Imperial power, improper, inadmissible and null, the protestation carried to the dictature....
— Holy Roman Empire, The Emperor's Commissorial Decree for Raising the Whole Force of the Empire Against the Queen of Hungary, 1744

A clearly legal context is shown just a few years later in a pamphlet published in London:

Little will it avail Abraham Payba, that an alteration of name, by which no body is hurt, never accounted a punishable fault; he will be told that this exception, which exactitude will perpetually explode, is absolutely inadmissible in his favour, with a view of the motives and circumstances which induced him to change his name.
— Edward Montagu, A memorial, or humble petition presented to the judge in the High Court of the Tournelle, 1752(?)



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