Pope Francis Makes Unequivocal Reaffirmation of Church’s Opposition to Death Penalty

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2018 

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Katlyn Toelle
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Pope Francis Makes Unequivocal Reaffirmation of Church’s Opposition to Death Penalty

December 17, 2018 — On Monday, his 82nd birthday and more than four months after the historic revision to the Catholic Catechism calling the death penalty “inadmissible,” Pope Francis made an important address reaffirming the Church’s unwavering opposition to capital punishment. Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice in the U.S., celebrates the Holy Father’s condemnation of this “inhuman form of punishment” which is “contrary to the Gospel.”

The Holy Father made the address to members of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. 

“Today’s speech by Pope Francis offered even more theological clarity to the Catechetical revision made this past summer,” stated Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of CMN. “Pope Francis makes it clear that when it comes to upholding the inviolability of human dignity, neutrality is simply not an option.”

The speech included a call to states maintaining active use of the death penalty to adopt moratoria on executions as they begin working toward abolition. Pope Francis cited progress in this cause, including efforts to suspend executions against minors, pregnant women, and people with intellectual disabilities as examples of a growing “universal recognition of human dignity.” 

A report released last Friday by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) conveyed similar themes, pointing to executions and death sentences in the U.S. which are at “generational lows.” 

“Pope Francis tells us that ‘in order to reach abolition, it may be necessary to go through complex political processes,’” stated Vaillancourt Murphy. “These words galvanize the work that CMN engages in daily. It’s a wonderful boost of encouragement for all those active in this movement. We believe it will renew momentum for death penalty abolition throughout the U.S. and, God-willing, worldwide.”


CMN is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices. 
CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and lives the Spirit of Unity of its sponsor, the Congregation of St. Joseph.