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Background

“The death penalty violates both the Church’s pro-life teaching and the teaching on the inherent dignity of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God. Not only does the death penalty target innocent life, but also those with mental illness, intellectual disability and people of color. It also redirects funds that could be used to help victims families harmed by violence heal.”(1)

 

Due to the nature of the death penalty and the advances in the criminal justice system around the world, in 2018 Pope Frances approved a new draft of Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2267, which now reads:

 

“2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

 

  • Since 1973, more than 195 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

  • The death penalty has not had a deterrent effect on crime.

  • Capital trials cost more than non-capital cases.

  • More than 75 % of the murder victims in cases resulting in execution were white, even though nationally only 50% of murder victims generally are white.

  • A clear majority of voters would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.(2)

1https://catholicsmobilizing.org/death-penalty

2All bullet points are cited from https://dpic-cdn.org/production/documents/pdf/FactSheet.pdf

Church Documents

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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