In a statement issued Thursday, Sant`Egidio said the change served as “an additional impetus for the Church and Catholics, on the basis of the Gospel, to respect the sanctity of human life and to work at all levels and on all continents to abolish this inhuman practice.” But the pope is following suit in many ways instead of leading it, and the Vatican`s message is perhaps the least influential in the 60 or so countries that retain the death penalty. These countries are generally less democratic and less committed to the protection of human rights. Many are authoritarian in their policies, and others reject the human rights framework as a Western project detrimental to indigenous cultural or religious obligations. Some of the major law enforcement states, such as Iran and Pakistan, fall into both camps. It is likely that the surprisingly rapid movement for the abolition of the death penalty around the world has already demanded fruit at hand. The struggle to complete the project can be longer and more difficult, and it can be carried out more successfully in conditions other than human dignity. The federal government and 31 states still have the death penalty on their books, but that number has declined sharply over the past decade. One third of states without the death penalty have banned it since 2007. Correction (August 15): The original version of this story incorrectly indicated the number of U.S. states that have abolished the death penalty. Nineteen states did so, not 31.
Previously, the Catechism had said that the Church did not exclude the use of the death penalty “if it is the only possible way to effectively defend human lives against the unjust aggressor.” Previous popes have maintained this position, although St. John Paul II. Pushed to the end of the practice, emphasizing that the guilty deserve dignity just as much as the innocent. “Not only do I support them, but I also encourage all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation,” the pope said Thursday. However, it was precisely Francis` quote from the gospel that drew criticism from some members of the Catholic right who cited Scripture to argue that Francis had no authority to change what previous popes taught. Pope Francis used his historic speech to Congress on Thursday to reaffirm his belief that the death penalty should be abolished, linking the issue directly to his advocacy for the poor and underrepresented. Catholics Biden, Boehner, basking in the splendor of the pope, face difficult choices Vatican City, a sovereign city-state in Rome, Italy, is the smallest independent state in the world in terms of population and area. It was founded in 1929 and is governed by the Bishop of Rome or the Pope, although it is different from the centuries-old Holy See, which is the seat of the governing body of the Roman Catholic Church and is also headed by the Pope. For example, Vatican City issues its own passports, which are different from those of the Holy See, which is not an independent country and therefore can only issue diplomatic or service passports. However, most Americans make no distinction between these two unique entities and, as a result, the United States` relations with Vatican City have aroused the concern of the Protestant majority in the United States, and more generally of individuals who fear that the recognition of the city-state violates the doctrine of the separation of church and state. Francis wrote in March that the death penalty focuses on people “whose ability to cause harm is not current. and who are deprived of their liberty.
The pope also said the death penalty loses its legitimacy because of what he called the imperfection of human justice, noting that there could be flaws in the process that leads to the execution of a person. Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist whose service to a death row inmate inspired the book and movie “Dead Man Walking,” said the pope`s new teaching will be more noticeable at an upcoming execution planned in Nebraska under Gov. Pete Ricketts, whom Prejean called a “pro-life Catholic.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a candidate for president of the GOP, told Politico after the pope`s speech that he disagreed with him on the issue. With this new text, the Pope does not reject the previous doctrine concerning the death penalty. It does not refer to inherent morality or immorality, but to political opportunism in new circumstances to emphasize the possibility of salvation for all, including the most guilty,” he said. The death penalty has been abolished in most parts of Europe and South America, but it is still used in the United States and countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the death penalty could soon be reintroduced in Turkey, where it was abolished in 2004 as part of its membership of the European Union. As things stand, the United States appears to be a glaring anomaly whose continued use of the death penalty reads as a sharp denial of the link between abolition and human rights.
Leaders of other countries have taken advantage of this contradictory position, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did at a rally in Istanbul in 2016: “They say there is no death penalty in the EU.