Pope: update Catechism on death penalty

What happened?

Pope Francis said that the death penalty “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel.” At an event in the Vatican to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Catechism, Francis said that capital punishment is “inadmissible, because it attacks the inviolability and dignity of the person”.

The Catechism expressed strong disapproval of the death penalty, but said that Church teaching did not entirely rule it out. Pope Francis said the Catechism might have to be updated.

What the media said

Theologian John Cavadini told CNN that he was pleased. “I admire Pope Francis’s call for the abolition of the death penalty as a contribution to the seamless garment of pro-life ethics. State killing is not in keeping with the purposes of punishment or the norms of human dignity,” Cavadini said.

In the Guardian, Joanna Moorhead said there might be more controversy ahead. “Talk is now swirling in Rome that Francis means to overturn Catholic teaching on the ‘just war’ theory. He has already made statements that, for example, ‘faith and violence are incompatible’, and has spoken out many times against war,” Moorhead said. If the Pope decided to “change Catholic teaching” on the matter, she added, “he will put the cat well and truly among the pigeons” – and not only within the Church.

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