Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pope Francis Officially Changes Teaching on Death Penalty


Today Pope Francis officially changed the Catholic Church's teaching on the death penalty.  To this time, the Church taught that it did not support the death penalty, but allowed for it in certain circumstances.  However, our recent popes have taught that it should be used only very rarely, if at all.  Pope Francis has consistently said capital punishment should never be used, as can be seen in the above quote from 2015.

Today, Pope Francis officially changed the teaching on the death penalty in the Catechism. From NBC News:
Pope Francis has changed church teaching about the death penalty, saying in a new policy published Thursday that it is always "inadmissible" because it "attacks" the inherent dignity of all humans.
The Vatican said Francis had approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compilation of official Catholic Church teaching. Previously, the catechism said the church didn't exclude recourse to capital punishment "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."
The new teaching, contained in Catechism No. 2267, says the previous policy is outdated and that there are other ways to protect the common good.
"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," and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide," reads the new text, which was approved in May but only published Thursday.
In an accompanying letter explaining the change, the head of the Vatican's doctrine office said the development of Catholic doctrine on capital punishment didn't contradict prior teaching, but rather was an evolution of it.
"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," said Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This teaching is now binding on all Catholics.  It is directly from the Chair of Peter and cannot be challenged by any Catholic.  To do so is to put any such Catholic in direct opposition to the Church's teaching.

I am personally thrilled about this change.  Those who commit heinous crimes are just as loved by Jesus Christ as their victims.  Christ died for all people, and as He said, He did not come to save the righteous but sinners.  We must give them every chance for repentance.  It goes against everything in the Gospel to purposely cut someone's life short and deprive them of that chance for repentance.

Some argue that the reason for the death penalty is to protect others from evil people.  That is a meaningless argument in this age of high tech prisons.  People want the death penalty because they want revenge on others.  People also love being able to dismiss other people as somehow unworthy of life.  It makes us feel good to judge others and pronounce them guilty.  That is an inconvenient truth of human nature.  We see it all the time in many different circumstances, especially on the Internet.

I have no doubt that the many enemies of Pope Francis will come out loud and strong against this change in Church teaching.  They will use this as further evidence to prove that Pope Francis is a heretic and should be removed from the papacy.  Any Catholic who challenges Pope Francis on this teaching should immediately be dismissed as a heretic.  We will truly see, without any doubt, who is a loyal Catholic and who is not, just as we saw in the reaction to Pope Paul VI when he released Humanae Vitae.

The Church's teaching on capital punishment is no longer murky and subject to personal judgment.  It is clear and incontrovertible.  All life is sacred.  Thank you, Pope Francis.

19 comments:

  1. Imagine what Robert Royal and Father Gerald Murray have to say about situation.

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    1. I have to admit, I am very curious to hear what they have to say. Father Z has already dissented from the Pope.

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    2. https://youtu.be/2R0HZ34jvS8?t=4m

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    3. Absolute proof that these people have no credibility as Catholics. Why should we listen to them at all? They do not belong to the same church as Pope Francis, which they would readily admit. So who is the true church? Do we follow them or do we follow the one who sits in the Chair of Peter?

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  2. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/vatican-draft-alters-catechism-wording-on-capital-punishment-calling-it-ina

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    1. The comments were much more disturbing than the actual article, which was bad enough. But there is one comment which gives me great hope:

      “Thou shalt not kill. I don’t understand what part of this a good Catholic does not grasp. To take it further, some of our greatest saints have been the greatest sinners, but were transformed by the conversion of the Holy Spirit. If those pushing for the death penalty had their way, Saul of Tarsus would never have had the chance to become our beloved St. Paul. Scripture tells us not to be afraid. We need not fear being killed, we need not fear for our safety and we need not fear for the victims who are already dead. We NEED to fear God, and he told us not to kill. Don’t you trust God? This is a Catholic news service, is it not? If you want support for secular views this shouldn’t be the place where you can find them. The fact that the death penalty is clearly the majority opinion here is disturbing to me. God always reaps his own justice.”

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  3. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/jesus-the-death-penalty-the-adulterous-woman.html

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  4. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following URLs:

    https://youtu.be/EehY9FE67TA

    https://youtu.be/f3Ry6XsUhQE

    https://youtu.be/nKBr2PJZEiM

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    1. Interesting. I don’t know where Fr Petri is coming from. The Pope has made a change to church teaching, but Petri denies that and says we can still make our own judgments. Would he say the same about Humanae Vitae? EWTN trying to have it both ways. Doesn’t work.

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    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, keep in mind that Catholic doctrine is unchangeable. Check out the following URLs:

      https://www.catholic.com/qa/death-penalty-is-not-a-mortal-sin

      https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/did-the-church-change-its-teaching-on-the-death-penalty

      https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/is-it-a-doctrine-or-a-discipline

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    3. I am unable to follow your links. However, if changing the Church’s stand on the death penalty was wrong, why haven’t those who have been calling for such change been disciplined, such as St. John Paul II and Archbishop Chaput? Why is it a good thing to kill people? I really don’t understand those in favor of the death penalty. The purpose of the Church is to save people, not kill them. And that seems to be what Pope Francis is saying.

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  5. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/burning-heretics-frying-murderers-slavery-analogies.html

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    1. Great article. Thanks, I think this summed it up:

      “It’s not being taught that it is intrinsically immoral in all times and places (like abortion); rather, that it is “inadmissible” in our present circumstances (particularly, our much better ability to constrain criminals).

      Therefore, there is no contradiction and it is a legitimate development. But I knew, sure as I’m sitting here — as soon as I heard the news — that many would think there was, because they fail to make this crucial distinction.”

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  6. Catholic in Brooklyn, you might want to hold your nose and check out the following URL:

    https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/the-devil-is-in-the-details-pope-francis-changes-catechism-on-the-death-pen

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    1. This is not ex cathedra? They have just pronounced themselves heretics.

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  7. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/pro-and-con-exchanges-on-capital-punishment.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/john-paul-ii-benedict-xvi-abolish-death-penalty.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/why-have-popes-at-all-if-we-reject-papal-guidance.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/not-burning-heretics-was-a-far-more-controversial-change.html

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    1. Dave Armstrong is very good and very fair.

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  8. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/throughcatholiclenses/2018/08/death-penalty-wrong-but-not-intrinsically-evil/

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  9. http://jimmyakin.com/2018/08/understanding-the-catechisms-death-penalty-revision.html

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