Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Pope Revises Catechism on Death Penalty

August 2nd, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Remember the advice to stockpile Catechisms and Bibles for times of persecution or erroneous teaching, in Sheltering in Place Part II? An “easy” change just appeared; more to come? Will the progressive platform get incorporated into Catholic Church Teaching, either through omission of teaching (think abortion in Ireland) or through confusing writing (think Amoris Laetitia) or by deliberate revisions of teaching many centuries old? More detail on this particular change at



See for further details. To “think” further:

  • Google St. Thomas Aquinas’ and St. Augustine’s teachings on capital punishment.
  • Consider God’s order to Noah after the flood: Genesis 9:6:  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image.”  
  • Remember the two escapees incarcerated for murder who terrorized the Adirondacks a few years ago.


Continue here with blog on LifeSiteNews by Peter Kwasniewski.


18 Responses to “Pope Revises Catechism on Death Penalty”

  1. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    As this post progresses, it would help me to believe and understand how the Holy Father’s decision reflects authentic “development of doctrine” and not teaching based upon popular thinking theologically nuanced.

    Can it be that our modern understanding and appreciation of the dignity of the human person has deepened more profoundly than Augustine’s and Aquinas’ recognition of human dignity?

    Perhaps. Please help me out.

  2. avatar militia says:

    Since when does Catholic Church Teaching need to be “Updated?” That term really scares me.

  3. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    WORLD OVER Broadcast 8/2/18

    Father Gerald Murray Priest of the Archdiocese of New York
    “…this is a very troubling action by the Pope because he is directly contradicting the perennial teaching of the Church about the morality of the death penalty. Where the new catechism says it was once considered appropriate… (the word appropriate is a euphemism; it was once considered moral, perfectly good; in fact something that was in accordance with the natural law, with divine revelation). Now to say, as this new catechism paragraph says, that the death penalty violates the dignity of the human person to execute criminals guilty of a serious crime, I have a great difficulty understanding that.”

    Yikes, if this ordained Catholic Priest wth a background in Canon Law has a great difficulty understanding Pope Francis on this subject, how am I to understand it?

    So, is the next step obediently to submitt intellect and will as Lumen Gentium 25 teaches?

  4. avatar Hopefull says:

    Posted for my friend Hanna, who brought this link to my attention:

  5. avatar JLo says:

    So hope and pray God moves this pope soon… moves his heart/head or moves him off the Chair of Peter! Just more nightmares every single day. God help us.

    Probably should mention that I personally could never be FOR the death penalty, because I believe a person should have all the time GOD allows, to get himself/herself right with God and I cannot choose to be part of a system that interferes with natural death. That’s a personal belief I would maintain as a jury member, for instance, but far from a political position such as this pope constantly puts forth.

    Not that my gut matters to anyone but me, but I have had a mind and heart opposed to this man from the beginning, finding troubling even his image on the news from his election. Don’t know why, but through the years that feeling has been reinforced as I watch a pope I believe is primarily an apostle of social justice and even lacks a fine-tuned brain such as his predecessors as well as a well-formed faith. I should add that I pray for him daily of course, even as I watch him trouble the Church universal on numerous matters.

    What to do, Dominic? Let nothing get between you and Jesus, not even a pope constantly slinging new thinking right and left. THAT alone should give us all pause. We’re not left orphans! We have Scripture and the Catechism and saints to guide us during these “tricky” times. For me, happily this new thing from this pope changes nothing, since I would always cite the belief as personal anyway.

  6. avatar SamanthaGillenson says:

    This is EXACTLY why I HIGHLY recommend picking up a copy of the Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Both are clear and faithful in their passing down of Church teaching!

    Pope Francis, in changing the Catechism, has gone against 2000+ years of sacred tradition, the wisdom of the saints, and most importantly, Sacred Scripture itself. In doing this, he has effectively thumbed his nose at them, and proclaimed that he knows better. This is a HUGE problem that needs to be addressed immediately by the cardinals!

    Pray for Pope Francis, and pray that the Church will not be lead further down this slippery slope.

  7. avatar militia says:

    It’s a prudential judgment issue, but when the Pope (or even the Sunday morning preacher) takes an authoritative position on a prudential judgment issue, he divides the congregation — faithful Catholics against faithful Catholics, and more damage is done (whether intended or not.)

  8. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Ed Feser –

    That capital punishment can be legitimate at least in principle is a teaching that clearly meets the criteria for being an infallible and irreformable doctrine of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, for reasons I set out at length in a recent article at Catholic World Report. The evidence is set out in even greater depth by Joseph Bessette and I in our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

    The former Presbyterian Cardinal from the Diocese of Rochester (Auburn, NY) – Avery Cardinal Dulles –

    Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.

    Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany on facebook –

    To me this change to the Catechism is not a new teaching but a clarification of our genuine teaching

    Anyone? Anyone?

  9. avatar Hopefull says:

    My personal opinion is that this entire attack on the Deposit of Faith and Church Teaching which has been promulgated over many centuries is all about diverting our attention away from the McCarrick scandal and its associated failures and accusations. Just a hunch.

  10. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    On what authority will these bishops protest when the change comes welcoming contraception, homosexuality, etc?

  11. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    “This isn’t about the death penalty. It’s about getting language into the Catechism that allows theologians to evaluate doctrine/dogma in historicist terms; that is, “This truth is no longer true b/c times have changed.” The Hegelians got their wish.” —– Fr. Philip Powell OP

  12. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    Also in the wings, I bet,…

    …change in CCC to words “intrinsically disordered”, “intrinsic moral evil”, “objective disorder

  13. avatar BigE says:

    “Pope Francis’ decision to complete the development of doctrine regarding the death penalty begun by St. Pope John Paul II has caused quite a stir among those already opposed to this pope. But who can reasonably doubt that this development is legitimate?

    The key shift in Catholic doctrine was effected by John Paul II. First, the text of the catechism approved in 1992 shifted away from a focus on just punishment and, instead, permitted the death penalty only in those circumstances in which there was no other way to protect society from further violence.

    In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the pontiff repeated the shift and concluded that the death penalty was unnecessary as a practical matter. He wrote: “[Punishment] ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    @BigE, at least have some respect for the English language and stop calling it a development. It is a reversal – a rejection of the traditional teaching.

  15. avatar BigE says:

    1) First, just to be clear; the language used is by the author of the quote I pulled from the linked article (Michael Winters). Not that I disagree with his use of the word “development”.
    2) Second, I don’t quite get all the consternation (other than the change came from a Pope not well regarded on this site). It’s not like this is the first church teaching to ever be changed (developed?…lol). Usury, Religious Freedom, Salvation Outside the Church, just to name a few – are all teachings that have changed pretty significantly over the years.

  16. avatar militia says:

    We could find other words to describe what just happened. How about “perversion of Church teaching?” or how about “disordered interpretation?” Just saying…

  17. avatar JLo says:

    The Crisis Magazine article Dominick linked is a great explanation of the “junk theology” coming forth.

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