Nun of ‘Dead Man Walking’ fame grateful to pope

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Roman Catholic nun whose ministry to a death row inmate inspired the book and film “Dead Man Walking” says she’s “overjoyed and deeply grateful” Pope Francis has declared the death penalty unjustifiable under any circumstance.

In a tweet, Sister Helen Prejean said Francis’ decision to change church teaching on capital punishment “has closed the last remaining loophole in Catholic teaching on the death penalty.”

She wrote in response to Thursday’s Vatican announcement: “This is a great day for human rights.”

Prejean began giving spiritual advice in 1982 to a death row inmate convicted of killing two teen-agers. She turned the experience into a nonfiction book that explored the human toll the death sentence had on the inmate’s family and the families of the victims.

“Dead Man Walking” was made into a 1995 film that starred Susan Sarandon as Prejean and fueled the debate in the U.S. over capital punishment.