Pope Francis Changes Catholic Church’s Teaching on Death Penalty, Declares It ‘Inadmissible’ Because It is an Attack on the ‘Dignity of the Person’

Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church’s stance on the death penalty in a new policy published Thursday, saying it is “inadmissible” because it “attacks” the inherent dignity of all humans.

The Vatican said the pontiff approved a change to the catechism, which gives worshippers a go-to guide for official Catholic Church teachings on subjects ranging from the sacraments to sex. Previously, the catechism said the church didn’t exclude capital punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

Francis announced his intention to change church teaching on capital punishment in October. The new text was approved in May and published Thursday.

The new text, contained in Catechism No. 2267, says the previous policy is outdated and that there are other ways to protect the common good.

It says: “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. 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.

“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.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jane Onyanga-Omara