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Pope Francis changes Catholic teaching on the death penalty

Pope Francis on Tuesday in St. Peter’s Square Associated Press/Photo by Alessandra Tarantino

Pope Francis changes Catholic teaching on the death penalty

Pope Francis in a new policy published Thursday changed the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty, saying it is always “inadmissible” because it “attacks” the inherent dignity of all humans. The Vatican said Francis approved in May the change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which had previously not ruled out capital punishment if needed to defend human life “against the unjust aggressor.” That position is now considered “outdated,” according to Catechism No. 2267. Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said there is an understanding that “the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes.” Francis announced his intention to change church teaching on capital punishment last October when he said the death penalty violates the gospel. In the past, he said, the Holy See had erred in allowing a mentality that was “more legalistic than Christian” but now knew better.

Les Sillars

Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.

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