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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Catholic death penalty opponents praise pope’s catechism revision

The announcement that Pope Francis had ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church calling the death penalty “inadmissible” was praised by Catholic death penalty opponents in the US.

“I am overjoyed and deeply grateful to learn that Pope Francis closed the last remaining loophole in Catholic social teaching on the death penalty,” said Sr Helen Prejean, a Sister of St Joseph of Medaille, who is a longtime opponent of capital punishment.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network in Washington, an advocacy group seeking to end the death penalty, called the news “a capstone teaching moment for the Catholic Church.”

Both advocates, in separate statements, stressed the clarity of the pope’s announcement. Sr Helen said the Catholic Church “has opposed capital punishment for many years, but the official language used to talk about the issue up to this point has always been equivocal” leaving room for some to say that “executions are morally permissible.”

The catechism’s “new language is very clear,” Sr Helen said, with its description of the death penalty as “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” There are “absolutely no exceptions,” she added.

Picture: Demonstrators protest the death penalty in Anaheim, Calif., on 25th February 2017. Pope Francis has ordered a revision to the catechism to state that the death penalty is inadmissible and he committed the Church to its abolition. (CNS photo/Andrew Cullen, Reuters).