VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is urging Christians to work together to abolish every form of torture, condemning the practice as a grave sin.

Francis told the public in St. Peter’s Square Sunday he wanted to reiterate his “firm condemnation of every kind of torture.” He sought united efforts to work for torture’s end and to support victims and their families.

Francis said it was a “mortal sin, a very grave sin, to torture people” and noted that Thursday marks the United Nation’s day for torture victims.

Pope Francis waves to faithful during the Angelus prayer he delivered from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s square at the Vatican, Sunday, June 22, 2014. Pope Francis is urging Christians to band together to work for the abolishment of every form of torture, condemning the practice as grave sin.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Torture was a powerful tool of the military regime ruling his native Argentina from 1976 till 1983. The local church hierarchy then openly sided with the junta.

Francis has been credited with saving lives of political dissidents while a Jesuit priest in Argentina.

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