As much as kill crazy American Conservative Catholics and their close intellectual allies, the Communists and Islamic despots may stamp their feet and demand it, the Church is not going to stop calling for the abolition of the death penalty. Pope Francis just made this clear again by telling us that capital punishment is contrary to the gospel.
The Usual Suspects on the RightWingoSphere are out in force panicking that the Pope is now a Full Blown Heretic and offering the usual stuff about how abortion is intrinsically immoral and the death penalty is not in order to attain their combox bulls of excommunication.
But, of course, one need not say the death penalty is intrinsically immoral (i.e. wrong by its very nature) in order to say that it is, practically speaking, always wrong. And, indeed, the Pope does not say that. What he says, in effect, is that killing people when it is not necessary to kill them is contrary to the gospel. And by no small coincidence, that is what the Catechism (2267) says too:
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
But American Conservative Christianists don’t ask “When do we *have* to kill?” They ask “When do we *get* to kill?” And they are at war with the Church and the Magisterium (and virtually the whole of the Church beyond our borders) to maintain a system in which the statistical guarantee is that about 4 out of 100 victims of the death penalty will be innocent, but in which they prefer to murder the innocent in order to unnecessarily kill the guilty.
That is, indeed, contrary to the gospel. Yet again, the Pope is right and his enemies are simply wrong.
I’ll stick with the Church.