In 2018, Pope Francis revised paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read as follows:

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.

An important clarification should be made. The above paragraph must be read in context of other paragraphs in the Catechism, such as the teachings on self-defense (CCC 2263-2266) and just war (CCC 2308-2309), as well as in light of the whole Magisterial teaching of the Church.

For more information about the Death Penalty or ways to get involved, contact the Prison and Jail Ministry of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

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