Last week’s Vatican announcement that Pope Francis had approved a revision to the language relating to the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church was welcome news to millions of Catholics worldwide. It also provided a ray of hope for anti-death penalty advocates in the U. S. that our nation will now move closer to a complete abolition of capital punishment.
Despite the overall favorable reception of the revised Catechism text by U. S. church leaders, specialists in Catholic social teaching and moral theologians, news correspondent Joan Frawley Desmond asserts: “Pope Francis’ revision of Catholic teaching on the death penalty builds on teaching of recent Popes, but also raises concerns from some analysts.”
Speaking favorably of the change, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, the “U.S. bishops’ point man on domestic-justice issues,” embraced the new Catechism text and vowed to step up efforts to end the death penalty in the United States.
Bradley Lewis, a political philosopher at The Catholic University of America, posed several questions “to highlight additional concerns that will likely prompt a robust internal debate within the Church.” Lewis, commented: “If executing those guilty of capital crimes is wrong, why is this not the case with the intentional killing of enemy combatants in a just war? If the protection of the common good does not authorize capital punishment, does it no longer justify killing enemy soldiers?”
To review these and other reactions to the Catechism revision on capital punishment, please click here to read Ms. Desmond’s “Wrestling With Capital Punishment” published in the National Catholic Register.