Pope Francis: Death penalty is contrary to the Gospel

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2017 / 10:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an Oct. 11 speech to members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Francis said the topic of the death penalty should have “a more adequate and coherent space” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This topic “cannot be reduced to a mere memory of a historic teaching” without taking into account the works and teachings of recent popes, he said, adding that it must also consider the “mutual awareness of the Christian people, who refuse a consensual attitude toward a penalty which seriously undermines human dignity.”

“It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”

The death penalty, he said, “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.”

Pope Francis spoke to participants in a special day-long conference marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Saint John Paul II in 1992.

The Catechism currently explains that the death penalty is morally impermissible “if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons.”

During their pontificates, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly called for abolition of the death penalty. Both popes encouraged nations to work towards just means of punishment and public order without recourse to the death penalty.

In his speech, Pope Francis said that in past centuries, where defense measures were poor and the maturity of society “still had not met a positive development,” the death penalty seemed like a “logical consequence of the application of justice they had to follow.”

He noted that “unfortunately” even the papal state at times adopted this “extreme and inhumane means” of punishment, “neglecting the primacy of mercy and justice.”

Francis stressed that God is a Father “who always waits for the return of the son who, knowing he has erred, asks forgiveness and begins a new life.”

“No one, therefore, can have their life taken from them, nor the possibility of a moral and existential redemption that goes back in favor of the community.”

“Let us take responsibility for the past, and let us recognize that these means were dictated by a more legalistic mentality than Christian,” he said.

Concern for maintaining power “led to an overestimation of the value of the law, impeding it from a deeper understanding of the Gospel,” he said. “However, to stay neutral today in the face of the new demands for the reaffirmation of personal dignity, would make us more guilty.”

Pope Francis said that “harmonious development of doctrine” requires that new treatments on the death penalty “leave out positions in defense of arguments which now appear decisively contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth…It is necessary to reiterate that, not matter how serious the crime committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attempt against the inviolability and dignity of the person.”


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  1. “…a new understanding of the truth.”

    Sadly, more nonsense from this pope. Convicted killers still escape in modern times. Whether from actual prisons or with the legal system played.

    The Church has always, and wisely, left it to the state on capital punishment. To say now that the Church has a “new understanding” of the truth is to proclaim that the Church did not have this truth prior…how can the Church now oppose in direct contradiction to the Catechism? An “evolving” truth or doctrine that now changes to its opposite?

    And when a murderer commits another murder will the Church still stand on the ridiculous mercy expounded by a pope who only sees mercy but never judgement?

  2. Utter contempt of and non mention of Romans 13:4….” not without reason does it( the state) carry the sword for it is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil.”
    The recent Catholic position utilized previously in northern Latin America by secular governments gets about 49,000 extra murder victims killed in Brazil every year because China’s regime hypothetically moved to Brazil could slowly save 49,000 murder victims per year in Brazil.
    This error of three late life ( declining testosterone) pacifist Popes can be undone by looking at non death penalty Brazil compared to death penalty China which by the way has decreased their executions in recent years but not for murderers. They are comparable countries because both have tens of millions of poor….unlike Europe, Canada, New Hampshire etc. The poor do most criminal rather than spousal murders which is why the USA’s inner cities have 6 times the murder rate of the US in general….31 per 100,000 vs 4.7 per 100,000.
    China had a drug problem and severity from the communists ended it…Brazil will have a drug problem forever if it keeps it’s non death penalty approach.
    Brazil, the largest Catholic population on earth, has 50,000 murders per year while China with 7 times the population of Brazil….has 11,000 murders per year. Three Popes’ pacifist position on this issue never cites any data whatsoever and world data destroys their point. All three think only of Europe which is middle class dominant so non murderous by definition excepting spousal murders largely. Ccc #2267 pictures perfectly run prisons preventing inter prison murders….which is Europe. Brazil and Mexico have prisons largely controlled by cartels but they are the two largest Catholic populations on earth. At you tube, type in Mexican prison murder…you’ll see cartel gang members stroll into a prison, scare the guards off, and machine gun a room of rival cartel men. Three Popes in a row have dishonestly described world prisons in their ccc 2267 by using Euro prisons as typical.
    Low murder rates worldwide result either from middle class incomes as dominant( e.g. Europe..Canada….Australia….Vermont)…or from the death penalty where poverty is widespread ( China and muslim countries etc.)
    Watch Pope Francis….like his two predecessors, he will give no world data. Non death penalty northern Latin America is the most murderous region on earth by UN figures available onlne as are maps of execution countries ( overlap them mentally)…East Asia is the safest region by UN figures excepting the Phillipines….where Spain also conquered as in South America.
    Japan has the death penalty but doesn’t need it because it like Europe is middle class….but that is non typical of the world in general.

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