The complicated relationship between Catholicism and the death penalty

Pope Francis

The Vatican said the change to its universal catechism, a summary of Church teaching, reflected Pope Francis' total opposition to capital punishment.

The change to the Catechism is being criticized as another departure by Francis from the Church's previous perennial teaching, in this case Scripture, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine, several previous popes, including Pius X and XII, and also the Council of Trent.

The update also says the Church will "work with determination" for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

The most important, he said, is the recognition of every person's dignity, which is never lost, even when they commit very serious crimes. "Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption", the text continues.

"There is no doubt the pope wants politicians to pay attention to this", said John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group in Washington. He said that Pope Benedict XVI urged "the attention of society's leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty", and St. John Paul II said: "Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this". "The death penalty is a failed practice that perpetuates the cycle of violence and disproportionately targets marginalized populations, especially people of color, those living in poverty, and people suffering with mental illness".

Furthermore, in a modern "state of law, the death penalty represents a failure" because it obliges the state to kill in the name of justice, the pope had written. Despite the change in Catholic doctrine, he has made no move to stop the execution of Carey Dean Moore.

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The only place in Europe where it is still legal is Belarus, which has a sizeable Catholic minority of about 7% of the population. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

In addition, plenty of Catholic organizations are active in the anti-death penalty campaign, including the Sant'Egidio Community, which together with Italian authorities always lights up Rome's Colosseum whenever a country abolishes capital punishment. This is a huge turning point for the Catholic judges, politicians, and officials who believed that their Roman Catholic Church does not utterly clash with the capital punishment.

He criticized the Pope's leadership, saying Francis has a "socialist bent" and his statement doesn't change church doctrine. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in 2005, which ultimately led to the formation of CMN.

Ricketts, a Republican and Catholic, worked to reinstate capital punishment in his state after lawmakers abolished it in 2015.

"Already in the past, the church had expressed its aversion to the death penalty, but with words that did not exclude ambiguities", said Riccardo Noury, Amnesty Italia spokesman. 53 percent of Catholics supported it as well, according to Pew, a number that may change after the Vatican's most recent declaration. "That's not being taken away here, but they can do that in other ways".

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