The death penalty is always a rejection of the Gospel and of human dignity, and therefore must be rejected by all countries, Pope Francis told the Delegation of the International Commission against the Death Penalty on Monday.
In his meeting with the delegation at the Vatican, the Pope set aside his prepared remarks and gave an impromptu address.
In his prepared text, which was then handed out to the delegation, Francis said he has prioritized the abolition of the death penalty throughout his ministry because of the great harm it does to human dignity.
The Pope in August ordered a revision of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, calling the death penalty “inadmissible” and urging its elimination. The Pope called for the changes in May, the final draft of the new paragraph was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Catechism previously taught that the state had the authority to use the death penalty in cases of “absolute necessity,” though with the qualification that the Church considered such situations to be extremely rare.
In his address on Monday, Pope Francis said the change in the Catechism expressed a “progress of the doctrine of the most recent Pontiffs as well as the change in the conscience of the Christian people, which rejects a penalty that seriously harms human dignity.”
The death penalty was a lingering value of bygone centuries, Pope Francis said, during which “the instruments available to us for the protection of society were lacking and the current level of development of human rights had not yet been achieved.”
It hearkens to a time when legal values were extolled over Christian ones and justice prevailed over mercy, he added.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.