Has teaching on the death penalty officially been changed?


Has Pope Francis merely claimed death penalty as wrong or has he really changed the Churches teaching regarding the matter?

Moratoriums, should we notify it better?
Catholic judge defends death penalty sentence on theological grounds
Catholic judge defends death penalty sentence on theological grounds
Catholic judge defends death penalty sentence on theological grounds
Catholic judge defends death penalty sentence on theological grounds

I guess I took it that the Church’s official stance is to seek the end of the death penalty, including the pursuit of any necessary societal changes to support such an abolition, which was at least implied prior to Francis’s change. The problem with the old wording, though, was that it, despite making it clear that the death penalty was undesirable, kept open the possibility of supporting the death penalty so long as the requirements for it were met, and at least in the U.S., 43% of Catholics support the death penalty. While this is considerably lower than Evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants, it is still bizarrely high for a religion that only permits it in circumstances that are mostly non-existent in our society.

So, to me, it seemed to be less changing our stance that there are certain circumstances where the death penalty is admissible and more definitively setting the tone going forward that we, as Catholics, are going to do what we can to seek its end.


Please note that the moderators have declared a moratorium on this topic. Please see https:// www.catholic.com main site. There are a couple excellent articles on that topic. Jimmy Akin has one, and a cannon lawyer has another.



It’s 2:03AM Stephie :angry: Some of us are trying to sleep :neutral_face:



The Jimmy Akin one. For people’s reference


closed #6

opened #7


The CAF Moratorium on the Death Penalty has been lifted.

Let’s be vigilant in keeping it to this thread only.

And here are three essays to guide the discussion.




Moratoriums, should we notify it better?
made this a banner . It will appear at the top of every page until it is dismissed by the user. #9

removed this banner . It will no longer appear at the top of every page. #10


The simple solution is to move further west so that it is earlier than 2:03.


The Holy Father has ordered that the relevant paragraph in the Catechism be revised. At a minimum, I would say the faithful must give at least intellectual assent to this… even if it’s not “de fide” or “infallible” per se.


Use your thunder… shock!


Pope Francis cannot change church teaching. Just because he puts something in the catechism, doesn’t mean it is true. It’s supposed to be the other way around: things which are true are supposed to be in the catechism.


I think Pope Francis thinks the death penalty is inhumane and per se contrary to the gospel. But has he changed anything? I think the new text of the Catechism is sufficiently unclear to be used to draw any conclusions concerning its content by itself. I prefer the previous text for clarity in a teaching resource. I think it is likely possible to know what Francis himself thinks on the topic by reading other sources. Here is a quote from one of them.

This issue cannot be reduced to a mere résumé of traditional teaching without taking into account not only the doctrine as it has developed in the teaching of recent Popes, but also the change in the awareness of the Christian people which rejects an attitude of complacency before a punishment deeply injurious of human dignity. It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity. It is per se contrary to the Gospel…


There are crimes very deserving of the death penalty. I do not agree with banning it’s use. I do think that it should only be applicable when guilt is certain beyond any doubt however.


I prefer to take the stance of previous Popes on this.


He can’t change Church teaching on this. In the best light, what he proposes is that, given current circumstances, use of the death penalty does not serve the common good. This is the position of pretty much the entire episcopate, as far as I can tell.

That being said, the Pope and bishops are not omniscient. They could have an insufficient grasp of the circumstances. Since the death penalty can licitly be used as a punishment to provide proportionate redress for a crime and to protect society, and since care for the common good and infliction of punishment is properly in the sphere of the public authority, the responsibility for deciding when to use the death penalty or not ultimately falls to public authority.


I concur. But in favor of them being “omniscient”, there are bishoprics around the world, so as a whole they are likely to know personally about the situation in most places. Reckoned individually, though, I can’t really see a bishop in Podunk having a handle personally on every potential situation worldwide.


If priests teach according to the catechism, which I imagine they are obligated to do in their ordination vows, then the Pope has in fact changed the Church’s teaching on the matter. If the catechism however is not the norm for teaching, then, not necessarily.

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