Pope Francis has declared the death penalty “inadmissible” in an update of the most important guide to Catholic teaching, the Vatican announced on Thursday.
“The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person’,” the Holy See said in a statement.
The change to the catechism, a question and answer guide to what Catholics should think about a wide range of moral and social issues, also says that the Church will “work with determination” for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
In an accompanying letter explaining the change, the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office said the development of Catholic doctrine on capital punishment didn’t contradict prior teaching, but rather was an evolution of it.
“If, in fact the political and social situation of the past made the death penalty an acceptable means for the protection of the common good, today the increasing understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes,” said Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.