Can a Catholic Still Maintain the Death Penalty?

That’s a simplistic take on Magisterial authority.

The Catechism is not an exercise of the extraordinary Magisterium.

1 Like

What open borders would you be referring to specifically in Latin America?
Or what do you mean by “ open borders “ better say? We might have a different understanding. Such as Mercosur agreement for instance?

I’ve never had a problem with accepting it. I actually reached the conclusion that the death penalty under the US legal system was unworkable, useless, prone to error (we’ve probably already executed some innocent people), and from a cost-benefit perspective, not worth the bother, without ever having to reach the moral issue, back in the days when I wasn’t practicing my faith and the Church still seemed to allow the death penalty.

This isn’t even a hard issue where the death penalty is providing us with all kinds of great benefits. It’s not doing much at all. It’s just costing taxpayers a whole heck of a lot of money with endless appeals and general lack of enforcement. It’s cheaper and better to just lock the person up and throw away the key. Also if he turns out to be innocent down the road, you can let him out.


As the Church has always taught and could never deviate, if one has a good faith belief with sufficient reason that is would be conducive to the common good given the circumstances and it is a proportionate punishment, than yes. But when coming to that conclusion we should give our pastors’ judgment their due respect that it is not conducive to the common good–and even harmful to it–in the current circumstances.

I liked Archbishop Gomez’s explanation of this admittedly confusing new catechism paragraph.

He affirms the Church’s irreformable and revealed doctrine:

The Scriptures, along with saints and teachers in the Church’s tradition, justify the death penalty as a fitting punishment for those who commit evil or take another person’s life. And the Church has always recognized that governments and civil authorities have the right to carry out executions in order to protect their citizens’ lives and punish those guilty of the gravest crimes against human life and the stability of the social order.

In addition, he notes:

The Catechism is not equating capital punishment with the evils of abortion and euthanasia. Those crimes involve the direct killing of innocent life and they are always gravely immoral.

He then notes “from a practical standpoint” it should no longer be used.

He elaborates more on the prudential aspect–“in these times and in this culture”–while acknowledging disagreement of those of good will (there is no condemnation here of those who disagree in good conscience):

I respect that many good people will continue to believe that our society needs the death penalty to express its moral outrage and to punish those who commit the ultimate crime of taking human life.

But I do not believe that public executions serve to advance that message in our secular society.

We all need to consider how much violence has become an accepted part of American society and popular culture. There is not only the random violence we see every day in our communities. But we are also a society that permits our children to play video games that involve them “virtually” killing their enemies; much of our popular “entertainment” consists of movies and other programs that involve fictional characters committing heinous murders and other unspeakable acts.

In this kind of society, executing criminals sends no moral signal. It is simply one more killing in a culture of death.

The Church today is pointing us in a different direction.

Showing mercy to those who do not “deserve” it, seeking redemption for persons who have committed evil, working for a society where every human life is considered sacred and protected — this is how we are called to follow Jesus Christ and proclaim his Gospel of life in these times and in this culture.

1 Like

Except when you put a guy to death who turns out to be innocent.
UK did that at least once before they got rid of hanging.
US probably did it at least once also.


See my above post

Fine, then, I can tell you there are plenty of unjust applications of the death penalty even when the accused is clearly guilty of some type of homicide.

But go ahead and keep assuming that the justice system always gets it right, if you like. You’ll only be kidding yourself.


The details of specific legal systems are beside the point of this thread, which is about the permissibility of the death penalty


Red herring.
The question is not about the death penalty being intrinsically evil, the question is about the admissibility, or permissibility of it, in the world as we currently know it.

There is this idea of direction , pointing in a direction.
If looked at it this way, the wording confirms said direction a step further.
Coming from previous Popes in discerning God’s will

Th at is an odd take given that a catechism is a document containing the teaching of a particular confession and that priests are bound to teach doctrine that is in harmony with the catechism, but okay. I will take your word for it. Are you saying that the catechism is not reflective of Catholic doctrine on this matter?

I’m really not sure why people cling to the absolute admissibility of the death penalty like a warm blanket.

1 Like

Which is outside of the competency of the Church at large because every place in the world is different :slight_smile:

Some places have better means of imprisonment than others, some have better legal systems than others, etc. :slight_smile:

A place that can securely lock away (and does) a prisoner for life who is a danger to society can do without it (I suppose), but a place that cannot needs it :slight_smile:

Heck, even in first world countries (such as the US), there are violent criminals who are released multiple times (such as the man who beat a 90 year old woman on the streets), who was arrested several times and was released, and had I think around 60 violent crimes behind him :slight_smile:

There are also people who were released when the pandemic started who went and murdered and raped people who had testified against them, and the man in NY that raped and murdered a 90 year old woman in her home upon release. :frowning:

Because it is a prudential thing that God left you the secular government, it falls outside of the competency of the Church to blanket statement the matter :slight_smile:


I do not think that anyone here has claimed that there is an absolute permissibility of the death penalty. The Catechism however does claim that it is impermissible.

And I’ll go with the Pope’s prudential judgment on the matter over yours, no offense to you. Who do you trust more than the living Pontiff?

No offense, but I only trust him in what the Church has declared his competency in throughout history, and that does not include this :slight_smile:

His reasoning is already flawed because it’s based on a system (in his admission), where the legal system can keep those people off the streets, which means it’s only impermissible in those cases, which realistically don’t exist :slight_smile:

It’s certainly your right to freely accept or reject the living Pope’s interpretation and application of Church doctrine.

Oh, his interpretation is correct in the situation he said it’s inadmissible over, but we don’t live in that situation so it doesn’t apply here :slight_smile:

There are plenty of people who read the revision as declaring that the death penalty is always and everywhere at all times intrinsically evil, and based on the wording and read out of context of the history of Church teaching, it’s easy to understand why. The revision is not worded well.

1 Like

Interesting interactive map for this topic

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit