Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is 'inadmissible'




Amen indeed.

But oh boy, is this going to stir the pot here at CAF…


The pot has been stirred.

I suspect he may be making a mistake – once again, getting the Church too closely mixed up in politics. We know what the Latin American bishops now say about Liberation Theology. “When the Church made its preferential option for the poor, the poor made their preferential option for the Pentecostals.”


The Catechism already taught that it is inadmissible if there are other options available. This change seems to clarify what was already implied: that in prosperous first world countries, there is absolutely no excuse for executing criminals, regardless of the nature of their crime.


As a protestant who for the last several years has been making steps towards the catholic church. This saddens me immensely. I almost believed that the idea that catholic church was protected from teaching error, this seems to fly in the face of that. The church has taught or is teaching error. Either now or in the past. Has inherent human dignity increased over the past millennia? If it has then its not inherent , if it hasn’t then how can the church say the death penalty was admissible in the past but inadmissible now?


You mean there is one Catechism for the prosperous first-world countries and a different Catechism for everyone else?


Because now we have many different programmes and a better ability to care for those who would have in the past been executed. We needn’t take a life, as we are able to “punish” in different ways.


Was the death penalty ever formally justified by the idea that the criminals had forfeited their dignity? My understanding is that it’s not that their dignity was forfeited but that it was consistent with human dignity and justice due, in order to safeguard society and prompt the criminal to penance and making peace with God before death.

Granted, maybe there are better ways to bring a person to penance. I’m not saying I want modern nations to continue with the death penalty. It’s best put out of practice due to the significant resources we now have available. Yet I’m uneasy about some of the wording. I’ll have to come to terms.


Firstly that is not true for every country in the world. So is the catholic church only a church for the wealthy nations. Secondly, the decision is based on inherent and “inviolable dignity” of humans. Inviolable means, never , under any circumstances. So either human dignity is not inviolable, or the death penalty is not inconsistent with human dignity in which case the church taught error in the past, or its teaching error now. Which is it?


I don’t know but I thought that it was OK to burn heretics or witches at the stake? Was it OK, or was it wrong to do so?

Not true, certain countries like Indonesia who execute people quite regularly could keep them alive OR could extradite them if they deem it too expensive. We don’t need to execute people.

Example in Australia from a Catholic perspective:

The CCC only permitted it in very, very special circumstances. It is not in error to now close that gap entirely as we are able to even in those very, very special circumstances keep people alive and cared for.

I’m not American, however I live in a Western society and my home Australian state executed people up to 1964. But it isn’t even a subject that’s discussed. We don’t have it anymore, and it’s not needed.


I don’t know, certainly the state used its powers to do that in the past, but the question is one of the moral position of the death penalty, does, it violate human dignity? If so it is always wrong. In which case we must ask questions why scripture prescribes it in the old testament and , also states that it is permissible for the state to use it in the new testament, in fact it even goes presents it as the states duty to use it against evil doers.

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Our understanding is what’s changed. The church is guided taught gifted knowledge and wisdom by the Holy Spirit.

God , as St Augustine said, does not give us any knowledge not required for our salvation history


Many things used to happen. We used to think arsenic was good for us, and silver was harmless


53 countries still have the death penalty, indonesia is one example, what about places like Sudan? or Somalia? Arguing that they have the systems in place to adequately protect citizens from murders and the like is laughable.

But again that’s missing the point, my point is that the argument given is that the death penalty violates a humans inviolable dignity. In which case that would make it inadmissible, regardless of the situation of the justice system in a country or time period. Because inviolable means it can not be violated no matter what. It is clear that the church thought it was admissible in some cases and in the past. So this means the A) human dignity can be violated and is not inviolable B) The death penalty does not violate human dignity. Since the church has taught in the past that the death penalty is permissible , that means that it is either wrong about A) OR wrong about (B) either in the past or now.


Excellent, Thank You Pope Francis. Someone mentioned it was already in need of clarification due to the catechism stance leaning in this way, I would agree, there is no reason that persons cannot be contained if they are a threat to society. I believe the death penalty makes us God, also it can deny repentance.


There is a letter that accompanies this change. For anyone who is struggling or confused by this, I would encourage you to read through this.


I will say, quite apart from what the pope is saying, this is a rather unconventional way to go about it. Pope Francis didn’t publish a papal document about it. There is no new encyclical or apostolic constitution. Just a letter from the CDF and an edited paragraph of the Catechism.

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