VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.



The catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.

Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.”

“Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) was St. John Paul’s 1995 encyclical on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. The encyclical led to an updating of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he originally promulgated in 1992 and which recognized “the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.”

At the same time, the original version of the catechism still urged the use of “bloodless means” when possible to punish criminals and protect citizens.

The catechism now will read: “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,” the new section continues.

Pope Francis’ change to the text concludes: “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.”

In his statement, Cardinal Ladaria noted how St. John Paul, retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis had all spoken out against capital punishment and appealed for clemency for death-row inmates on numerous occasions.

The development of church doctrine away from seeing the death penalty as a possibly legitimate punishment for the most serious crimes, the cardinal said, “centers principally on the clearer awareness of the church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: ‘Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.'”

Pope Francis specifically requested the change to the catechism in October during a speech at the Vatican commemorating the 25th anniversary of the text’s promulgation.

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, he had said, “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.”

Cardinal Ladaria also noted that the popes were not the only Catholics to become increasingly aware of how the modern use of the death penalty conflicted with church teaching on the dignity of human life; the same position, he said, has been “expressed ever more widely in the teaching of pastors and in the sensibility of the people of God.”

In particular, he said, Catholic opposition to the death penalty is based on an “understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes,” a deeper understanding that criminal penalties should aim at the rehabilitation of the criminal and a recognition that governments have the ability to detain criminals effectively, thereby protecting their citizens.

The cardinal’s note also cited a letter Pope Francis wrote in 2015 to the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. In the letter, the pope called capital punishment “cruel, inhumane and degrading” and said it “does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge.”

Furthermore, in a modern “state of law, the death penalty represents a failure” because it obliges the state to kill in the name of justice, the pope had written. On the other hand, he said, it is a method frequently used by “totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups” to do away with “political dissidents, minorities” and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to their goals.

In addition, Pope Francis noted that “human justice is imperfect” and said the death penalty loses all legitimacy in penal systems where judicial error is possible.

“The new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Ladaria said, “desires to give energy to a movement toward a decisive commitment to favor a mentality that recognizes the dignity of every human life and, in respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.”


  1. Robert James Orr

    This is disgusting. 61,000,000 American unborn babies have been murdered with the approval of a major organization which gets its electoral power to keep abortion legal from at least half of self-identified Catholics who endorse that organization with their names and actions (votes), disregarding what they say they believe and pray for when reciting the Lord’s Prayer in every Mass. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Is it God’s will that Catholics give the pro-abortion party the electoral power to keep abortion legal? I guess so based on the bishops’ silence in every Mass. They have never ended a Mass asking for “a prayer for the conversion of pro-abortion organizations.” Nor do they treat joining an organization like the pro-abortion, pro-same sex “marriage, pro teaching trans transgenderism to children in public school kindergartens, Democrat Party, like they do joining an organization that supports and pro-motes prejudice based on one’s race or religion like the Nazi Party or the KKK. Joining those organizations are a mortal sin against the 5th Commandment because that makes people feel bad who are victims of that prejudice. But joining an organization like the apostate Democrat Party that denies the right to life of unborn babies – well, I guess that isn’t as wrong as making their neighbors feel bad.

    Catholics gave Barack Obama 54% of their vote in 2008, and 50% in 2012. They gave Hillary Clinton 48% or their vote in 2016 to 45% to Trump. Thank God He didn’t allow the Catholics to win the last election, for if they had, that would have been the end of our constitution and our constitutional rights to freedom of religion. Hillary even said in one of the Presidential debates that faith organizations will have to conform to government laws. I guess the Bishops missed that.

    When I was growing up during the time of the “Cold War,” every Mass ended with a prayer “For the conversion of Russia.” Why haven’t the Bishops in the U.S. asked for “the conversion of all pro-abortion organizations?” Is it they feared what their sheep may do, rather than what God will do? Those sheep and their shepherds will not be happy if Jesus returns tomorrow. And it won’t be because they didn’t come out against Capital Punishment sooner.

    Question. What has the Pope and the U.S. Bishops done for the salvation of the victims of Capital Offenders? Many of such people never knew they would be dead in the next second or two, such as the murdered woman coming out of work, going to her car, and was shot 8 times by an ex-boy friend who decided to go through with murdering her when he checked and learned Illinois ended Capital Punishment a couple weeks earlier, with the help of the Illinois Conference of Catholic Bishops. It sound nice that you want the capital offender to have an opportunity to confess and repent and have an opportunity to go to heaven when they die; but what about their victims? What has the Pope and the U.S. Bishops Conferences done about the victims who were murdered without the opportunity to make a perfect contrition; what has the Pope and Bishops done for the murdered victims? I’m not aware of anything. Were they on their own? How nice that the Church wants the murderers to have time to possibly convert and confess to have the opportunity to go to heaven.

    By the way, what evidence has Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishop have that proves that Capital Offenders will never be able to harm anyone outside of the prison walls again because of our high tech modern prisons? What about people in countries who don’t have high tech prisons?

  2. Nacieve

    If it was to be the people who bring the sacrifice to God than there would have been no reason for the Father to send us His Son. The New Testament would have never been necessary. In fact, this is exactly what you idiot closed minded catholic aka protestant now tells God too His Face every time you approach HIS ALTER. You are somehow more worthy than His Son. Blasphemy at the highest level. Keep this up and you all are sure to perish. You do realize this is how the novus ordo mass is? This is the vatican II mass. The great catholic in place of Christ now brings the sacrifice to the Father. So protestant based it reeks. If the Father wanted man to bring Him the sacrifice He surely would have saved His Son and had Jesus grab some man from the crowd to be crucified in His place. And no Simon of Cyrene whom the soldiers pulled was for the reason of keeping Christ alive so at the top of the mountain they could beat Him more and He would be alive as He was nailed to the cross. He says they dragged Him by His beard back and forth across the rocky sharp rubble. They pulled out much of the left side of His beard and when you eye His Shroud you see that is so evident. God the Father is loosing His Patience for your large egos and deep seated pride, catholic! Not even the Son knows when His Fathers Hand will drop but no where does it say in this Hand will there flow any mercy. You are all being led to your slaughter!

  3. Nacieve

    Christ is offering to you His Holy Oil to fill your lanterns.  He is pleading with you to empty out your lanterns for they are all full of snake oil.  As the Jew rejected their King and did not recognize Him so have you Catholic rejected His Truth and Doctrine.  Christ took His Promise from the Jew and gave it to the Gentile.  Soon Christ will no longer be offering His Holy Oil to the Catholic and offer the gift of Salvation to a New People.   Darkness is coming to consume this world and only those with this Holy Oil in their lanterns will not fall off the path to the Father and Heaven.  The Jew is still waiting for their savior to ride in on Royalty, robed and with a big ring.  Do not doubt Gods plea to you because it is not coming to you through a man robed and wearing a big ring.  This is your Salvation and Christ will soon be denying you Catholic like he spoke of the nine virgins who were shut out of Heaven because their lamps were empty.  Be Alert! Do not sleep! He is at your door but soon He will leave and you will perish in the darkness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *