Pope Francis’ change in church teaching on death penalty at odds with Washington | World | News


The release of the pontiff’s 86-page document comes two years after he ordered a change in the Catechism when he termed capital punishment “inadmissible”. Encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal writing but they are not infallible.

On Sunday the 83-year-old used his new pastoral letter to send a strong message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, telling them the death penalty is inadmissible and they should make efforts to abolish the practice.

The teaching laid out in the document is at directs odds with the United States, where 14 inmates have been executed since the beginning of the year.

Thirteen were killed by lethal injection and one by electrocution.

Two inmates on death row are scheduled to be executed before the end of the year.

Capital punishment is carried out in 28 of the country’s 50 states.

The Catholic church has in past centuries been generally accepting of the death penalty.

Even as recently as the Nineties, the Catechism stated that nations could use the practice to protect citizens from violent criminals.

Helen Prejean, a prominent campaigner against the death penalty, welcomed the move.

READ MORE: Does the USA have the death penalty and where?

In Italian, Fratelli means brothers but it is also used to mean brothers and sisters.

The Vatican said it was taken from the “Admonitions”, or guidelines, written by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century to his followers and could not be changed.

In the first line, the pope said that St. Francis had “addressed his brothers and sisters” that way.

He uses the term “men and women” 15 times and speaks several times about defending the rights and dignity of women.

He delves into topics such as fraternity, immigration, the rich-poor gap, economic and social injustices, healthcare imbalances and the widening political polarisation in many countries.

Because it deals with social issues, “Fratelli Tutti” is what is known as a social encyclical, as opposed to those about Church doctrine.

During his first trip outside Rome since the coronavirus pandemic broke out the pope signed his encyclical in the crypt where St. Francis is buried.

When he was elected in 2013, the pontiff took his papal name after the saint to show his closeness to the poor.

St. Francis is known as “The Little Poor One” because he renounced his wealthy family to serve the needy.

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