Pope changes teaching to oppose death penalty in all cases

10 August, 2018, 04:21 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Pope Francis

The Vatican said Francis had approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church - the compilation of official Catholic teaching - to say that capital punishment constitutes an "attack" on the dignity of human beings.

The Philippines government plans to go ahead with its bid to restore the death penalty even as the Pope called it inadmissible under Catholicism - a faith professed by 85 per cent in the country.

"All people have rights and dignity and I think that's the message here, that dignity of all human life", Faulhaber says, "and so, by taking someone's life, that does not promote the dignity of life".

New York State now does not have a death penalty - it originally abolished the penalty in 2007, after abolishing and reinstating it multiple times throughout its history - and has not actually executed anyone since 1963, when 34-year-old armed robber Eddie Lee Mays was put to death in the electric chair.

What has it changed from?

The move comes after decades of hardening opposition from the Church to capital punishment, with Francis and his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II all making similar pleas for it to be stopped.

But, it added, there was an increasing awareness today that the dignity of the person was not lost even after "the commission of very serious crimes".

The new teaching, contained in Catechism No. 2267, says the previous policy is outdated and that "there are other ways to protect the common good".

"The death penalty is a stain on our conscience". Still, she said, it would be inappropriate for a governor to block all death row penalty cases based on his or her faith.


The church's new teaching will likely feature prominently in the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who, if confirmed, would bring the total number of Catholics on the bench to five.

The only place in Europe where it is still legal is Belarus, which has a sizeable Catholic minority of about 7% of the population.

Noting the cross-section of voters in America who oppose abortion but support the death penalty, the new primetime host admonished pro-life people to be consistent about their views from conception to natural death, as well as to treat people equitably with regard to their economic status. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

"It's something that the New York State bishops have been against and working toward the ending of capital punishment", he said.

The shift in the Catholic Church's position could influence the debate there, as well as in the United States.

What the Pope's change shows is that church teaching, rather than being preserved in aspic, can develop to the changing circumstances it is presented with. On the other hand, he said, it is a method frequently used by "totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups" to do away with "political dissidents, minorities" and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to their goals. He mentioned it in his address to Congress on his trip to the United States in 2015, saying that "from the beginning of my ministry" he had been led "to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty".

His son, Nicholas Hinkle, studies philosophy and theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, where he said he discusses capital punishment with professors and peers.

"Given that modern society possesses more efficient detention systems", Ladaria wrote, "the death penalty becomes unnecessary as protection for the life of innocent people".

The bishops said they have publicly expressed in recent years that the "death penalty is no longer needed or morally justified in Nebraska".

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