In a letter to the bishops on August 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: “The new revision … doctrine. ‘
VATICAN CITY – Vatican Thursday changed the wording of the Catechism on the admissibility of the death penalty, which the Church teaches as legitimate in extreme cases, declaring that it is “inadmissible” and that its elimination will be wanted.
A new version of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on August 2, after Pope Francis approved it in May.
Quoting the words of Pope Francis in a speech of October 11, 2017, the new paragraph states, in part, that “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 ”, and it works with determination for its abolition throughout the world.
Reasons for changing teaching, the paragraph says, include: the increasing efficiency of detention systems, a growing understanding of the immutable dignity of the person, and leaving open the possibility of conversion.
In a letter to the bishops on August 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave a brief overview of developments in Church teaching on the death penalty over the past decades. , and the perspective of the three most recent popes.
He noted, in particular, the teachings of Pope Saint John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (The value and inviolability of human life), which were later added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, presenting the death penalty as a punishment not proportionate to the gravity of certain crimes, although justifiable if “the only one practicable means of defending the life of human beings effectively.
“The new revision (…) is in the continuity of the previous Magisterium while bringing a coherent development of Catholic doctrine”, wrote Cardinal Ladaria.
“The new formula of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church wants to give energy to a movement toward a decisive commitment to foster a mentality which recognizes the dignity of all human life, ”he declared.
“And, in a respectful dialogue with the civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions allowing the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in force. “
The new teaching will be included in all editions of the Catechism in the future, a Vatican statement said on August 2.
The full text of new draft paragraph 2267 states, in its entirety:
“The use of the death penalty by the legitimate authority, after a fair trial, has long been considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding property. commmon. 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 detention systems have been developed, which ensure the fair protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition. in the whole world.
Until now, the Church has always taught that the state has the power to use the death penalty, in cases of “absolute necessity”, but with the caveat that the Church considers such situations to be extremely rare. .
The Catechism of the Catholic Church had declared: “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 to effectively defend human lives. against the unjust aggressor.