from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
For the Missionaries of the Precious Blood — Kansas City Province, the news that the Catechism of the Catholic Church will now refer to the death penalty as “inadmissible” is Good News indeed. As a Province, working to end the use of the death penalty became our first corporate stance. We have stood on street corners on the vigils of executions, made numerous phone calls to the governor, and raised our voices many times reminding others that all human life is sacred. We have been working for a long time to eliminate the use of this unnecessary and inhumane punishment. We are very grateful that Pope Francis has proclaimed that all of us have an inherent worth that comes only from God. We continue to work to abolish the death penalty and this clarification of Catholic teaching should energize our efforts even further.
The new text:
The Death Penalty
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”, [1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
This teaching hopefully clarifies any ambiguity that may have existed in the minds of some Catholics in regards to the use of the death penalty. Let us continue to promote our corporate stance and work for the abolition of the death penalty in every state of our nation and throughout the world.