The Vatican Thursday altered the Catechism's wording on the permissibility of the death penalty, which the Church teaches is legitimate in extreme cases, stating it is "inadmissible", and its elimination will be sought.
The new teaching now states there are other ways to protect common good.
"Two years ago, in October 2016, the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty, denouncing its effects not only on victims and others immediately affected, but also on society". In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. "He's not referring to the inherent morality or immorality of it, but to political expedience within new circumstances to emphasize the possibility of redemption for all, including the most guilty", he said.
John Paul II called for its abolition on a visit to the United States in 1999, while Benedict XVI said there was "the need to do everything possible to eliminate capital punishment", without ever going as far as to ask for an edit of the catechism.
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In a letter sent to bishops from the Vatican's doctrine office, Cardinal Luis Ladaria noted that the church's stance on the death penalty stemmed from a "new understanding" of modern punishment, which should aim to rehabilitate and socially reintegrate those who have committed crimes.
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has changed Church teaching about the death sentence.
Amnesty International, which has long campaigned for a worldwide ban on the death penalty, welcomed the development as an "important step forward". "And you may not be as apt to own your mistake if you're facing life in prison".
"This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty", Francis told top U.S. elected lawmakers.
The shift in the Catholic Church's position could influence the debate there, as well as in the United States. Cuomo issued the following statement on the matter, driving home his determination to eliminate capital punishment from the confines of NY via legislation that he intends to introduce to state lawmakers in the near future. He says that executions can not be accepted in any case as the death penalty is an attack on the dignity of human beings.
Whether or not Ricketts heeds those words, Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is planning to hold a rally outside the state Capitol on August 14 "to speak out against the failed death penalty system which is broken beyond fix".