You will find a statement on the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2267, revised in 2018 to say:

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Previously the Church allowed the use of the death penalty, but only if this was the only way of protecting people against an unjust aggressor and the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent’, citing John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.

Crossroads photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

14 October 2019

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