Pope Francis has called for stronger opposition to the death penalty in the Catechism of the Church, CNA reports.
In a speech to members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation yesterday, Francis said the topic of the death penalty should have “a more adequate and coherent space” in the Catechism.
This topic “cannot be reduced to a mere memory of a historic teaching” without taking into account the works and teachings of recent popes, he said, adding that it must also consider the “mutual awareness of the Christian people, who refuse a consensual attitude toward a penalty which seriously undermines human dignity”.
“It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”
The death penalty, he said, “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor”.
The Pope spoke to participants in a special day-long conference marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Saint John Paul II in 1992.
The Catechism currently explains that the death penalty is morally impermissible “if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons”.
During their pontificates, St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly called for the abolition of the death penalty. Both popes encouraged nations to work towards just means of punishment and public order without recourse to the death penalty.
In his speech, the Pontiff said that in past centuries, where defense measures were poor and the maturity of society “still had not met a positive development,” the death penalty seemed like a “logical consequence of the application of justice they had to follow”.
He noted that “unfortunately” even the papal state at times adopted this “extreme and inhumane means” of punishment, “neglecting the primacy of mercy and justice”.