Ed Feser, who has recently written a book on the traditional Catholic teaching on the death penalty, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, looks at the current attempt by Pope Francis to reverse Church teaching:
“The Church teaches that scripture is divinely inspired, that it cannot teach error where matters of faith and morals are concerned, and that it must always be interpreted in the way the Church traditionally has understood it. But many passages of scripture clearly teach that capital punishment is legitimate, and have always been interpreted by the Church as teaching this,” he said.
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.”
Feser said previous popes have “consistently” reaffirmed the legitimacy of capital punishment and have “insisted that accepting its legitimacy is a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy.”
One such pope would be Pius XII, who in 1955 defended 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.”
“Even Pope St. John Paul II taught that capital punishment is not always and absolutely wrong,” said Feser.
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.”
The Catholic professor said the Church also has “always taught that popes are obligated to preserve traditional teaching and never to contradict it.”
“When Pope Francis says that capital punishment is ‘in itself contrary to the Gospel,’ and ‘inadmissible … no matter how serious the crime,’ he seems to be contradicting traditional teaching,” he said.
“If that is what he is doing, then he is flirting with doctrinal error, which is possible when a pope is not speaking ex cathedra, even though it is extremely rare. There are only a handful of cases in Church history of popes who are possibly guilty of this, the best known cases being those of Pope Honorius and Pope John XXII,” he added.
Feser said that if Pope Francis is reversing past teaching on capital punishment, then he is “implicitly saying that every previous pope and scripture itself were wrong.”
“This would completely undermine the authority of the Church, and of Pope Francis himself. For if the Church could be that wrong for that long about something that serious, why trust anything else she says? And if all previous popes have been so badly mistaken, why should we think Pope Francis is right?” he said.
Go here to read the rest. This completely feckless Pope has little but contempt for traditional Catholic teaching in many areas. His clear goal is to take the Church down the same path that most Protestant main line churches have trod, and replace the Christian faith with codified fashionable Leftism. That such a transformation destroys the essence of Christianity, and puts the denominations that embrace it on the path of swift extinction, seems not to bother our Pope one whit.