Pope Francis, the death penalty, and the development of doctrine
(CNS Photo: Pope Francis shakes hands with an inmate at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, PA Sept. 27, 2015.)
“It is not that the Gospel has changed: it is that we have begun to understand it better,” ruminated Pope John XXIII on his deathbed in May 1963. That famous utterance lingered in my mind this past week as I read commentaries on Pope Francis’ recent statement that the death penalty is “inadmissible,” “contrary to the Gospel,” and must be given a “more adequate treatment” than is currently outlined in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Francis was speaking at a