Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Pope sharpens attack on death penalty, a ‘state crime’

December 17, 2018

Pope Francis has sharpened his criticism of the death penalty, saying that previous Church teachings in support of capital punishment were “more legalistic than Christian.”

In a December 17 address to members of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, the Pope said that he ordered a change in the wording of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a way of “taking responsibility for the past” and acknowledging the flaws in past statements of Church teaching. He repeated that the death penalty is “always inadmissible.”

The Pontiff appeared to condemn life sentences as well, saying that “perpetual penalties, which deny the possibility of moral and existential redemption of the condemned and of the community, are a form of the death penalty in disguise.”

“The Church cannot remain neutral” on the issue of capital punishment, the Pope insisted. He argued that lethal force can only be used to stop aggression, and any other use of deadly force, such as capital punishment, “can only be considered an illegal execution, a state crime.”


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  • Posted by: space15796 - Dec. 18, 2018 3:03 AM ET USA

    Oh how blessed we are to have such an insightful pope who can point out when the church fathers and even GOD Himself has got it wrong for all these centuries! Frances knows better than all his predecessors.

  • Posted by: rghatt6599 - Dec. 17, 2018 11:26 PM ET USA

    The pope not only makes it clear that it was his intention to change Church teaching with the recent revision of the Catechism. In addition, he seems blissfully unaware of the supreme arrogance of saying he is right in his understanding of God’s mercy while Church teaching and therefore all the popes before him were more “legalistic than Christian”. An uncomfortable discussion must be had about whether or not the current pope who contradicts all before him teaches heresy.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Dec. 17, 2018 8:10 PM ET USA

    I was taught that an infallible teaching could not be contradicted by another infallible teaching because then there would never be such a thing as an infallible teaching. Then we would be in the same boat as the Muslims.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Dec. 17, 2018 7:15 PM ET USA

    Then why the recent groveling capitulation to China, an enthusiastic and prolific practitioner of the death penalty for a variety of crimes? I thought we were all told by one of Pope Francis' negotiators just a few months ago that China had the best implementation of Catholic social teaching in the world. How can that be, if they regularly engage in this "state crime?" One looks in vain for any logic or consistency from this Pontificate.