And he indicated some revision or addition to the catechism on this topic might be in order.
In an Oct. 11 speech to members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Pope Francis said the topic of the death penalty should have “a more adequate and coherent space” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This topic “cannot be reduced to a mere memory of a historic teaching” without taking into account the works and teachings of recent popes, he said, adding that it must also consider the “mutual awareness of the Christian people, who refuse a consensual attitude toward a penalty which seriously undermines human dignity.”
“It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”
The death penalty, he said, “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.”
Pope Francis spoke to participants in a special day-long conference marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Saint John Paul II in 1992.
The Catechism currently explains that the death penalty is morally impermissible “if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons.”
During their pontificates, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly called for the abolition of the death penalty. Both popes encouraged nations to work towards just means of punishment and public order without recourse to the death penalty.