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Since 2019, three US states have formally abolished the death penalty (CNS photo/Mark R. Cristino, EPA)

Five years after Pope Francis updated the Catechism of the Catholic Church to clarify the Church’s teaching on the death penalty, there is “renewed momentum” in the United States to end the practice, a leading Catholic activist said. Source: OSV News.

Pope Francis revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2267) in 2018 to reflect that capital punishment was morally “inadmissible” in the modern world and that the Church works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilising Network, which advocates for ending the death penalty, said that “in the past five years we’ve seen three states formally abolish the death penalty, including the first and only Southern state to do so: New Hampshire (2019), Colorado (2020) and Virginia (2021). There have also been a number of states that have paused executions under a governor-imposed moratorium, including Arizona, California, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.”

“We’ve seen an impressive and growing number of Catholics come out in full force with consistent opposition to scheduled executions, faithful advocacy for legislation that would limit or eliminate the death penalty, and fervent prayer that the dignity of life will be upheld for all people, even those among us who have committed grave harm,” she said. “This kind of faithful advocacy to abolish the death penalty has been inspiring.”

Ms Vaillancourt Murphy said Pope Francis’ revision “followed a long history of the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty.” She pointed out that many often overlook that the catechism was previously adapted in 1997 to include St John Paul II’s words from his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

“It stated that the death penalty could be defended when it was the only possible way to protect society, but acknowledged that such instances were rare, if not ‘practically non-existent’,” she said.


There is ‘renewed momentum’ to end capital punishment (By Kate Scanlon, OSV News)