VATICAN Pope Francis declares the death penalty ‘inadmissible’ and changes the Catechism of the Catholic Church


By modifying article 2267, the pontiff commits the Church to the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The previous version of the article (from 1992) authorized capital punishment, but under strict conditions. China, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the countries that execute the most.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has amended the Catechism of the Church, removing the death penalty as an acceptable form of punishment. In the previous version, the latter was allowed under strict conditions.

For the pontiff, “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person”. For this reason, the Church works “with determination for its abolition throughout the world”.

the Vatican Press Office published today the new version of article 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, written by Card Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The new version of article 2,267 says:

“The use of the death penalty by legitimate authority, after a fair trial, has long been considered an appropriate response to the seriousness of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is a growing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the importance of state-imposed criminal sanctions. Finally, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the protection due to citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Therefore, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition throughout the world.

The previous version, from 1992, at the time of Pope John Paul II, said:

“Assuming that the identity and responsibility of the culprit are fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude the use of the death penalty, if it is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

“If, however, non-lethal means suffice to defend and protect the safety of persons against the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, since these are more in conformity with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

“Today, in fact, as a result of the possibilities available to the State to effectively prevent crime, by rendering those who have committed an offense incapable of causing harm – without definitively depriving them of the possibility of redeeming themselves – the cases in which the execution of the culprit is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent” [Evangelium vitae, n. 56].

In recent years, Pope Francis has supported the call for a universal moratorium on capital punishment.

China, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the countries that most often use the death penalty.

[1] FRANCIS, Address by His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New EvangelizationVatican, October 11, 2017.


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