On 1st August 2018 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a Letter to the Bishops announced Pope Francis’ approval of a new revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 2267 that opposes use of the death penalty.
This pronouncement which follows ‘the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in Evangelium vitæ, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person.’
The Catholic Church has always stood for the dignity of human life. She has never wavered in her fight for the protection of life, from conception to natural death. Pope Francis’ revision of the CCC concerning the death penalty is a restatement of the Church’s basic principles, seen in the present world context.
Whereas it used to be considered permissible to impose the death penalty in certain cases because that was the only way to protect society, the world has developed since. Pope Francis is saying that there are now better ways to handle hardcore criminals and those deemed a danger to society without having to resort to the death penalty. This stance is a natural development of the Church’s clear and conscious respect for all human life.
This is the Church’s position. However, she does not impose her view on any government. She respects the responsibilities of state authorities to ensure the protection of those under their care and, as in all areas, will continue to work with them to serve the common good.
The Archbishop’s Communications Office,
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore,
4th Aug 2018