Vatican Changes View on Death Penalty

Pope Francis I changed the catechism of the Catholic Church by updating the paragraph on the death penalty. The new edition of the pivotal Roman Catholic doctrine says that the death penalty is inadmissible, and the church should facilitate its abolition.

The pontiff has amended the paragraph of the catechism of Catholics about the death penalty, according to the official website of the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The amended paragraph 2267 of the document, which regulates various aspects of the life of believers, now explicitly states that “the death penalty is inadmissible” and that the Catholic Church will seek its abolition throughout the world.

The new text, approved in May and published Thursday, also contains an indication that the Catholic Church has long regarded the use of the death penalty as an “adequate response” to certain serious crimes, and “an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of protecting the common good.”

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” the new paragraph reads.

The old version of Catechism article No 2267 said that “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude the use of the death penalty, if this is the only possible way to effectively protect people’s lives from an unjust aggressor”.



Daniel L. Dreisbach is a scholar adviser to the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center coming to Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, a professor at American University in Washington, and the author of “Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.” He wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)


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