VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the pope’s move to change Catholic church teaching on the death penalty (all times local):
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.
Spokesman Greg Burke says popes going back to St. John Paul II have called for the abolition of capital punishment. But until now, the official church teaching allowed for it in limited cases.
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Burke said: “First of all I think it is a message to all Catholics: Let’s go back to what it means to respect life at all time and in all cases.”
He also said it sends a message globally, that the Catholic Church has changed its own teaching on capital punishment and now will work for its abolition globally.
Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compendium of church teaching — to show that the death penalty is now “inadmissible.”
Pope Francis has changed church teaching about the death penalty, saying it can never be sanctioned because it “attacks” the inherent dignity of all humans.
The Vatican said Thursday that Francis had changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compilation of official Catholic teaching. Previously, the catechism said the church didn’t exclude recourse to capital punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
The new teaching says the previous policy is outdated and that there are other ways to protect society: “Consequently the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because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.”