Benedict and the Death Penalty


New Pope Benedict XVI was instrumental in revising Catholic Church teachings on death penalty

The 1992 Catechism said that governments had the right to inflict penalties in keeping with crimes, including the death penalty, “in cases of extreme gravity.” But it added that if non-lethal methods of punishment “suffice to defend human lives against aggressors and protect public order and the security of people, authorities should use these means, because they better conform to the concrete conditions of the common good and to the dignity of the human person.”

A revised edition of the Catechism issued in 1997 contained even stronger language against the death penalty, reflecting the views expressed by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, “The Gospel of Life.” At a September 9, 1997 Vatican press conference introducing the new edition, Cardinal Ratzinger was asked to what degree the new version strengthened the Church’s opposition to the death penalty. He replied that the new text “does not categorically say that it is impossible, but it gives objective criteria which make it practically impossible for all of them to be met. We don’t exclude it in principle, but we insist on these criteria.”

In response to another query, he said that polls showing that most Catholics in the United States favored the death penalty had no bearing on the Church’s opposition to it. “While it is important to know the thoughts of the faithful,” he explained, “doctrine is not made according to statistics, but according to objective criteria, taking into account progress made in the Church’s thought on the issue.”

During the pontificate of John Paul the Great, folks on the left who had serious issues re his defense of traditional doctrine would nevertheless use him to advance those issues on which they and he agreed.

I wonder if the folks in opposition to Benedict will do the same – if they will at least give him credit where it’s due when he is in agreement with them. From the current tone, it seems doubtful to me.

As I said elsewhere, I can’t wait for the new pope to begin to make himself seen and heard, so that we may all take his measure, without the filter and noise, noise, noise of the media.


Anchorising has a good, long, complete and thoughtful sort of roundup on all Things Benedict that you might want to check out.


Courtesy of my dear little brother, Thom, comes this extraordinarily useful and informative piece from Chiesa. It is VERY long, VERY detailed, and you won’t want to miss the bit about the agenda, at the bottom. Print it out – I’m going to do that myself, and take it along to read on the plane this Friday.


Benedict XVI made the very pragmatic remark that his would not be a “long” pontificate. Since he is 78 years old, that is not exactly a surprising revelation. But…his parents did live to be in their 90′s. Thom sent this to me with the remark, “In other words: ‘Don’t worry. He’ll be dead soon.’”

I’m sure that some DO think that way.

But then again…Karol Wojtyla’s parents died young, and he made it to 84!

Blogging will be very light from here on out. Leaving on our first vacation in three years, and there is still much to do. I will be trying to post when I can while on vacation…after all…what is avacation if I can’t have fun online? Supposedly, the ship has an internet cafe! Ahh, coffee and readin’ news on the net! Good times! :-)

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About Elizabeth Scalia