Pope Francis Alters Catechism to Condemn Capital Punishment

Defying 1600 years of Catholic practice and Holy scripture, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis had amended the Catechism of the Catholic Church, condemning capital punishment as an “attack” on the dignity of human beings.


Pope Francis has decreed that the death penalty is “inadmissible” under all circumstances and the Catholic Church should campaign to abolish it, a change in church teaching that could influence Catholic politicians and judges in the U.S. and across the globe.

The change, announced Thursday, was hailed by anti-death penalty activists and scorned by Francis’ frequent conservative critics, who said he had no right to change what Scripture revealed and popes have taught for centuries.

Previously, the catechism said the church didn’t exclude recourse to capital punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” Past popes have upheld that position, though St. John Paul II began urging an end to the practice and stressed that the guilty were just as deserving of dignity as innocents.

The new teaching says the previous policy is outdated because there are new ways to protect the common good, and the church should instead commit itself to working to end capital punishment.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme means of safeguarding the common good,” reads the new text.

Today “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes,” it said, adding that society now has effective ways to detain prisoners so they aren’t a threat and even provide the possibility of rehabilitation.

“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,” reads the new text, which was approved in May but only published Thursday.

The tired old liberal argument that only The Old Testament calls for capital punishment is shown to be bare-naked ignorance on the part of opponents of capital punishment. The writings of The New Testament explicitly call for the death penalty for certain crimes:

  • In Matthew 7:2: "Whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you."
  • In Matthew 15:4 Jesus says: "He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die".
  • In Romans 13:4 Paul writes that the magistrate who holds authority "does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute His wrath on the wrongdoer."

In the City of God, St Augustine writes

The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions, as when God authorises killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time.

Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill' to wage war at God's bidding, or for the representatives of the State's authority to put criminals to death, according to law or the rule of rational justice.

Many Church Theologians, Historians and Philosophers have noted that the alteration flies in the face of established Catholic teaching that legitimate civil authority has the right to use capital punishment and the practice is supported by scripture. 



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