Catholic World News

Catechism’s revision is instance of ‘true dogmatic progress,’ Vatican prelate says

August 03, 2018

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said that the revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty is an instance of “true dogmatic progress ... that has gradually matured to the point of making us understand the unsustainability of the death penalty in our day.”

Archbishop Rino Fisichella made his remarks in a front-page column in the August 3 Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

After reviewing the development of the revised text, Archbishop Fisichella commented on the key sentence: “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.” The prelate said:

Guarding the deposit of faith does not mean mummifying it but rendering it ever more conformed to its very nature and permitting the truth of faith to be able to respond to the questions of every generation. The Tradition is not representable as an insect imprisoned in amber, to say it in a colorful English expression. If that were the case, we would have destroyed it. The teaching of the faith of the Church, rather, is an announcement, a word that remains alive...

Pope Francis thus takes a decisive step in the interpretation of the doctrine of all time. And it is a development and a progress in the understanding of the Gospel that opens horizons that had remained in the shadow. The history of dogma does not live in discontinuity, but in continuity aimed at progress through a harmonious development which, in a dynamic manner, makes the truth of all time to emerge.

“To suppress a human life voluntarily is contrary to Christian revelation,” the prelate concluded, as he spoke of the importance of allowing everyone the opportunity to convert, repent, and begin a new life. “To aim at pardon and redemption is the challenge that the Church is called to make as a commitment of the new evangelization.”

[Editor’s note: Archbishop Fisichella’s column, originally published in Italian, was subsequently published in English.]


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 04, 2018 1:53 PM ET USA

    "To suppress a human life voluntarily is contrary to Christian revelation." Those imprisoned criminals who order the execution of enemies both inside and outside of the prison walls are _not_ executed "voluntarily." No, they are executed as a just and deliberate measure of defense of self and defense of innocent victims in society--the society of prison inmates and the society at large outside of prison walls. The "advances in the modern penal system" argument was and remains nonsense.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Aug. 03, 2018 6:36 PM ET USA