One priest's take on pope's 'death penalty' change

Pope Francis

The Argentine pontiff, who had hinted previous year that such a change might come, has described the church's stance on the death penalty as evidence of how the Vatican can evolve - in this case, over the course of a generation.

Pope Francis has added this change in the Roman Catholic Church's Catechism, a holy book of doctrine for the Catholics which is taught worldwide to the Catholic children and it was majorly studied by the adults who visit the church and have a membership of about 1.2 million people.

The catechism's language was formally changed after St. John Paul II's pro-life encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" in 1997, Catholic News pointed out: "Since then, the catechism has specified that the use of the death penalty is permissible only when the identity and responsibility of the condemned is certain and when capital punishment 'is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor'".

Francis has always been an opponent of the death penalty, saying it could never be justified no matter how bad the crime is.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI renewed Pope John Paul II's appeal to end the death penalty, and in his historic speech before the US Congress in September of 2015, Pope Francis called for a global abolition of capital punishment.

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The new teaching now states there are other ways to protect common good.

However, the new text says there is "an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes".

Since his election in 2013, the Pontiff has several times called for a worldwide ban on capital punishment, and has urged the Church's new position to be better reflected in its universal catechism.

The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis' decision to change church teaching to make clear there is never any justification for the death penalty is a message for all Catholics and for the world.

Blair said Thursday: "For everybody, the fundamental message here is that wanting the death penalty out of sheer vengeance is not a spiritually or morally good thing to do".

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"He wants to comment on the United States' judicial system, a system that is by far the best, while ignoring the problems of all the other judicial systems around the world", Landry said.

One of them will be Sister Helen Prejean, a religious sister who has for years has campaigned to abolish the death penalty and was played by Susan Sarandon in "Dead Man Walking" a film where Sister Helen offers support to an inmate on death row played by Sean Penn.

"Today, in solidarity with Pope Francis and in honor of my father, I will be advancing legislation to remove the death penalty - and its ugly stain in our history - from state law once and for all", said Cuomo. Central to the discourse is death penalty per se and not the method ~ the hangman's noose, the firing squad, the sword or the lethal injection.

More than two-thirds of countries - including most predominantly Catholic states - have abolished or suspended judicial killings. This revision is not so much, as has been reported, a change in Church teaching, as it is a natural development in her teaching held over centuries regarding the dignity and sanctity of all human life from conception until natural death. He mentioned it in his address to Congress on his trip to the USA in 2015, saying that "from the beginning of my ministry" he had been led "to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty".

The House of Representatives where Duterte supporters enjoy a super majority unanimously approved a bill for the return of the death penalty for heinous crimes which, aside from illegal drugs, also include murder, kidnap-for-ransom, treason and homicide with rape.

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