Pope Francis changes capital punishment teaching, now finds death penalty ‘inadmissible’

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Pope Francis has changed the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty, saying capital punishment is “inadmissible” in all cases because it “attacks” human dignity.

The Vatican said the previous policy was outdated and Francis approved the change in the Catechism — the official Catholic Church teaching — The Associated Press reported Thursday. 

“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 dignity of the person,” the new text, published this week, reads, according to the news service.


The previous policy allowed for the death penalty “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

The Vatican explained in a letter that the new policy follows an evolution of thought rather than a contradiction, the AP reported.

“If, in fact the political and social situation of the past made the death penalty an acceptable means for the protection of the common good, today the increasing understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes,” Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in the letter, according to the news service.

Francis has sharply condemned capital punishment for many years and indicated last October — on the 25th anniversary of the publication of St. John Paul II’s Catechism — that he was looking into a change

“However grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person,” Francis said in 2017.

He added that human life “is always sacred in the eyes of the creator,” the AP reported.

The U.S. is the only Group of Seven nation that still practices capital punishment, America magazine reported last year, noting that more than 100 countries have banned it

Francis, more than many of his predecessors, has embraced several liberal causes, in the past calling for the Catholic Church to take a role in protecting immigrants and pushing for action on climate change.

He criticized President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that led thousands of migrant children to be separated from their families at the southern border.

Tags Capital punishment Catechism Catholic Church death penalty Donald Trump Justice System Pope Francis Vatican Vatican
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