Pope Francis has made some waves since taking the reins and he’s at it yet again…
“Contrary to the Gospel, the Pope announced just last week, during the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that the church will officially denounce the death penalty.
The Catechism itself explains that capital punishment is not inherently evil and within the scope of “legitimate public authority … to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.” While the next paragraph adds that technological advances have rendered cases in which the death penalty is “absolutely necessary … very rare, if not practically non-existent.” But even this unusually prudential addition does not proscribe the death penalty in any case, and its first sentence sums up why: “The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty.”
In declaring capital punishment “contrary to the Gospel,” Pope Francis apparently placed himself at odds with his predecessors, the Doctors of the Church, and sacred scripture. Pope Pius XII sent a Jesuit archivist to the prosecutors at Nuremberg to hasten the executions, and he personally assured the American prosecutor, “Not only do we approve of the trial, but we desire that the guilty be punished as quickly as possible.” An earlier Pius, Pope St. Pius V, propagated the Roman Catechism, which states:
Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder.
Edward Feser, a professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College and author of a recent Catholic defense of capital punishment, explains the threat that Pope Francis’ comments pose to the Barque of Peter. “If the church has been that wrong for that long about something that serious,” he asks, “why should we trust anything else she teaches?”