The Pope made a rare announcement on Thursday when he declared that the Roman Catholic Church is now against the death penalty in all cases. He said he would be changing the teachings of the Church accordingly.
Per Associated Press:
Pope Francis has decreed that the death penalty is “inadmissible” under all circumstances and that the Catholic Church must work to abolish it, changing official church teaching to reflect his view that all life is sacred and there is no justification for state-sponsored executions.
The Vatican said Francis had approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compilation of official Catholic teaching — to say that capital punishment constitutes an “attack” on the dignity of human beings.
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.” Previous popes have upheld that position, while urging an end to the practice.
BREAKING: Pope changes church teaching on death penalty, says it is always inadmissible because it “attacks” human dignity.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 2, 2018
Previously, the Catholic Church had a centuries-old policy of permitting the death penalty in extreme cases. In 2005, the position of the church began to change, Reuters reports.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 2, 2018
From the report:
The 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church had for centuries allowed the death penalty in extreme cases, but the position began to change under Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.
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The Vatican said the change to its universal catechism, a summary of Church teaching, reflected Pope Francis’ total opposition to capital punishment.
According to the new entry in the catechism: “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
The new stance could run into some opposition with Catholics in the United States and other countries who have legalized and support the death penalty.
According to the report, 53 countries around the world issued at least one capital punishment sentence in 2017 and nearly half of them (23) executed at least 993 people. Most government-sanctioned death penalties were issued in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Pope Francis changes the teachings of the Catholic Church on the death penalty https://t.co/BAmZLV9U8I
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 2, 2018
Many people online have vocalize support for the change:
The death penalty is morally indefensible and has no place in the 21st century. Today, in solidarity with @pontifex and in honor of my father, I will be advancing legislation to remove the death penalty from State law once and for all. https://t.co/BxFvym4YTB
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 2, 2018
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) August 2, 2018
I’m overjoyed and deeply grateful to hear that Pope Francis has closed the last remaining loophole in Catholic teaching on the death penalty. This is a great day for human rights and I will have more to say this afternoon.
— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) August 2, 2018