BREAKING US Bishops Approve revision to Catechism on Death Penalty - Full Text Release
U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults
June 13, 2019
BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.
The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14.
On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the death penalty in the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2267). In response, the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB prepared a new section on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA).
Following collaboration with the Committee on Doctrine, they placed the revised statement on the death penalty for the USCCA before the body of Bishops for approval by two thirds of the members, with subsequent recognitio from the Holy See.
The revised statement on the death penalty would replace the current text in the USCCA (pp. 394-395). FULL TEXT release by USCCB
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Bishop Robert Barron reiterated that the bishops were not debating the change to the universal catechism itself or even the overall issue of capital punishment, but simply deciding if the added revision to the adult catechism adequately reflects recent catechism revisions.
He said the passage provides context and justification for the development of this teaching on the death penalty that highlights the dignity of the human person. It also emphasizes the continuity of Catholic teaching on this topic by citing St. John Paul II's encyclical, "The Gospel of Life," and previous statements of U.S. bishops.
The bishop noted that the universal catechism change has not yet been published and if the U.S. bishops made a similar change to the U.S. adult catechism, they would not issue the revised version until the universal catechism change is published.
Last year, the pope ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and that the church is committed to working toward the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
The catechism's paragraph on capital punishment already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.
The U.S. bishops' passage about the death penalty states that "today it is no longer just nor reasonable to apply the death penalty," stressing that it is not needed to protect society and its application is "inequitable and flawed."
The new passage also says the death penalty does not promote a culture of life and, quoting the universal catechism, adds that it is "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and the church will work "with determination for its abolition worldwide."