DEATH PENALTY is now inadmissible under any circumstances.   Pope Francis has approved the new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on death penalty saying that “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”  

In his letter to the bishops released August 2, 2018, the prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, explains that Pope Francis, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism, had asked that the teaching on the death penalty be reformulated to “better reflect the development of the doctrine.”   This new formulation of the Catechism, according to Ladaria, expresses “an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium.”

In Evangelium vitae, John Paul II pointed out the signs of hope for a new culture of life, including “a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of ‘legitimate defense’ on the part of society, adding that criminals should not be “definitively” denied the change to reform.  This development was upheld by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who recalled “the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty.”

Capital punishment, according to Pope Francis “heavily wounds human dignity” and is an “inhuman measure.” Besides, “It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress 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.”

It will take time for public discourse and policy to sink deep and finally embrace the inadmissibility of death penalty.  What is good for now is “Roma locuta est.” Rome has finally made it definitive.