Bishops vote to revise capital punishment section of U.S. catechism

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Updated June 13, 2019 at 2:45 p.m. EST.

Baltimore – American bishops voted on June 13 to revise what the American church teaches its adult members about the death penalty in a passage on the issue in the American Catechism for Adults.

All the bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with three abstentions. He will now need the approval, or “recognitio,” of the Vatican.

The passage was the work of the Committee of Bishops for Evangelism and Catechesis, chaired by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. On the first day of the spring assembly of bishops in Baltimore, Barron said on June 11 that the language emphasized the dignity of all and the misapplication of the death penalty. The discussion on was not meant to be a debate on the death penalty as a whole, he added.

The material given to the bishops about the additional passage points out that last year the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the Pope’s revision to the teaching on the death penalty in the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In response to this action, the Bishops’ Committee on Evangelism and Catechesis has planned to replace its current text in adult catechesis in the United States with a revised statement. The goal is to “keep our treatment of the death penalty in the American Adult Catechism in alignment with the Revised Universal Catechism,” said Barron.

He noted that he quotes extensively from the addition of Pope Francis. Its main characteristics also underline “the irreducible dignity of all people, even those accused of terrible crimes” as well as the practical non-necessity of the death penalty due to developments in civil society and the danger of “death”. flagrant misapplication of this penalty. “

Barron reiterated that the bishops were not debating the change to the universal catechism itself or even the whole issue of capital punishment, but simply deciding whether the additional revision of the adult catechism adequately reflects recent revisions to the catechism.

He said the passage provides a context and rationale for the development of this teaching on the death penalty which emphasizes the dignity of the human person. He also underlines the continuity of Catholic teaching on this subject by citing the encyclical of Saint John Paul II, “The Gospel of Life,” and the previous declarations of American bishops.

The bishop noted that the universal catechism change has not yet been released, and if the American bishops make a similar change to the American adult catechism, they will not publish the revised version until the catechism change. universal is published.

Last year, the Pope ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and that the He Church is committed to work for the abolition of capital punishment around the world.

The paragraph of the catechism on the death penalty had already been updated by Saint John Paul II in 1997 to reinforce his skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, in particular, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.

The passage of the American bishops on the death penalty declares that “today it is no longer just or reasonable to apply the death penalty”, stressing that it is not necessary to protect society and that its application is “inequitable and imperfect”.

The new passage also says that the death penalty does not promote a culture of life and, citing the universal catechism, adds that it is “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and the church will work “with determination for its abolition around the world.”


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