Yesterday Pope Francis made an important pronouncement about capital punishment. Somewhat to my surprise, Francis is the first pope to state that the death penalty is not acceptable, no matter the nature or severity of the crime. This has been the official United Church of Canada position for more than 60 years. This position is shared by many other denominations around the world. More conservative Christian churches are often in favour of capital punishment, even though they claim to be "pro-life." For me the death penalty is contrary to the teaching of Jesus, not to mention that Jesus was cruelly put to death by the Roman regime which used crucifixion as both punishment and deterrent.
Here is how the New York Times reports Pope Francis' statement:
ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty wrong in all cases, a definitive change in church teaching that is likely to challenge Catholic politicians, judges and officials who have argued that their church was not entirely opposed to capital punishment.
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