Pope Francis changes catechism to declare death penalty “inadmissible”

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(RNS) – Pope Francis ordered a catechism change of the Catholic Church, modifying the existing wording to read “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”. He promises that the church will work “with determination for its abolition throughout the world.”

Although Catholics have generally been opposed to the death penalty for some time – Saint John Paul II updated the catechism in 1997 with stronger language criticizing capital punishment – Francis’ change clarifies that the church s ‘fully opposes the law.

“The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae’, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it undermines the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes, ”said Cardinal Luis Ladaria in announcing the change, according to the Catholic News Service. Ladaria, who is the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Noted that Francis approved the changes on May 11.

François has long been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, and he alludes to a possible change in a 2017 speech to church leaders, where he also called the practice “unacceptable.”

Additionally, Francis endorsed the abolition of the practice in the United States during his 2015 speech to Congress.

“Recently, my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty,” Francis said noted. “Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

According to a Pew Research Survey 2016, American Catholics are more opposed to the death penalty than most major religious groups. Only 43 percent of Catholics were in favor of capital punishment, compared with a majority of majority white Protestants (60 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (69 percent).

The same poll showed that 49% of Americans overall support the death penalty, the lowest in more than four decades.


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