“Consistency with Scripture and longstanding Catholic tradition is important for the grounding of many current teachings of the Catholic Church; for example, those regarding abortion, contraception, the permanence of marriage and the ineligibility of women for priestly ordination. If the tradition on capital punishment had been reversed, serious questions would be raised regarding other doctrines.”
Avery Cardinal Dulles, 2004
Showing the contempt for prior Church teaching that has been the hallmark of this kidney stone of a pontificate, Pope Francis has stated that the death penalty is contrary to the Gospel:
Pope Francis has issued his strongest statement yet against the death penalty, calling it “contrary to the Gospel.” He said he would like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to change according to a “new understanding of Christian truth,” saying that only a “partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static.”
The Pope made his comments in an October 11 speech to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II.
“The death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity,” said Pope Francis.
“It is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred,” he added. “In the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor.”
The Catholic Church, following the Bible and the fathers and doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Pope Pius XII, has always viewed capital punishment as a legitimate form of protection of the public from immediate danger and as a legitimate punishment for serious crimes.
Pope Francis has gone beyond the position held by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who, while opposing capital punishment, never held that it was, in itself, intrinsically evil.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his classic defense of capital punishment in the Summa Theologica, argued that “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.”
Pope Pius XII defended in 1955 the authority of the State to punish crimes, even with the death penalty. He argued that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture because “the coercive power of legitimate human authority” is based on “the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.”
Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that the death penalty can be legitimate. For instance, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Or again, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is morally permissible.
Go here to read the rest. According to this Pope, the vast majority of Popes, Church Councils, and Saints were acting contrary to the Gospel by supporting Church teaching that the death penalty was a morally licit punishment. This is a flat reversal of prior Church teaching. The damage that this Pope is doing to how Catholics have always perceived their Church and the role of the Pope in the Church, cannot be overstated.