I understand that this question is touchy, and I myself wanted to break a hole through my wall when I heard what the Pope said, I have calmed down by God's grace. And I realize that traditionalists, like Church Militant have in a certain sense harmonized everything and calmed the storm. Although other traditionalists like akaCatholic are more reluctant to give the Pope a pass, mind you all of these are indeed traditionalists and not sedevacantists schismatics.

This question is frankly aimed at Pope Francis more than his revision of the canon, because it seems to me that his perpetual and almost ridiculous record of clumsiness in wording is God's way of restricting him from leading the Church into heresy. I hope this question can raise more awareness and that there will be an adequate answer for this site.

The questions are as follows:

  • Is Pope Francis' revision of canon 2267, in view of Trent, a development of doctrine or a change/evolution of doctrine?

  • Is the revision a prudential judgment or an absolute moral judgment? (This ties in with the first part of my question above, heterodoxy cannot be infallible)

  • Hypothetically speaking, if the Ordinary Magesterium (fallible) CLEARLY errs, can the clergy or the laymen resist the new teaching in appealing to the Church's tradition?

PS: I will not quote or consider the revision of Pope St. John Paul ll as to if Pope Francis' revision is a logical continuity to it because that question has already been dealt with, this question here focuses on the continuity in view of Trent. Naturally if Pope St. John Paul ll and Pope Francis are harmonized, then it only remains to see if both of their teachings can be harmonized with the Church's tradition.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Traditional Catholic "atmosphere" around the Death Penalty is showcased in the following quotes(be indulgent, thank you):

“The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time. The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.” – (St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21)


It is written: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex. 22:18); and: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land” (Ps. 100:8). …Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). – (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)


“It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.” (Pope Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, 20 February 405, PL 20,495)


Condemned as an error: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” – Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520)

CRUCIAL INFORMATION:

New Teaching on the Death Penalty (2018)

  1. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,"1 and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.


1 Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L'Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.

Oldest Teaching on the Death Penalty (1556)

Catechism of the Council of Trent

The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.

In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8).

(Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)

  • 1
    There are a couple related questions that are relevant. The first one, What level of assent does the 2018 teaching on capital punishment require of Catholics?, deals with your third point – may Catholics resist? The second, Did Pope Francis declare that according to the teaching of the Catholic Church capital punishment is intrinsically evil?, is related to your first point, since if he did say it is intrinsically evil, he has contradicted Trent. – Nathaniel Aug 7 at 18:54
  • 1
    I'd suggest narrowing your question in light of the existence of these other ones, and it might also be useful to ask for an overview of arguments, because it sounds like this is a multi-faceted debate within Catholicism. – Nathaniel Aug 7 at 18:57
  • The question which i am so curious to know, but am having trouble wording correctly. Is to what extent in the pope BOUND by the tradition of the church, and to what extent is the church BOUND by the pope. Which has authority over the other? From a protestant perspective, I am having trouble understanding this aspect. I like this debate about the death penalty because I feel like my question is very much at the heart of it! – L1R Aug 7 at 21:26
  • L1R I can understand your concerns, in the meantime you're welcome to check out the professional answers of Church Militant and akaCatholic, you'll see both sides of the coin. – Destynation Y Aug 7 at 22:01
  • 2
    @DestynationY "Also notice how both of those questions haven't yet validated any answer" - what do you expect? If you'll ask different Catholics (e.g. pope Francis and his supporters, people you call "traditionalists", members of "We are church", the "average" Catholic you meet in the mass ...) you'll get totally different answers - even if you specifically ask if two documents (Trent and Can. 2267) are contradicting or not. You will not get a neutral answer. – Martin Rosenau Aug 8 at 5:12

Initial Answer

Pardon me, If the way of interpreting your question is a little bit bigger more than one analysis and sitting.

Before we go to your not so pleasant words or should I say unchristian remarks to a Holy Father the Vicar of Christ here on earth.

This question is frankly aimed at Pope Francis more than his revision of the canon, because it seems to me that his perpetual and almost ridiculous record of clumsiness in wording is God's way of restricting him from leading the Church into heresy. I hope this question can raise more awareness and that there will be an adequate answer for this site.

Before we FRANKLY aimed at your direct question to Pope Francis who are the Chief Shepherd of the Flock redeemed by Christ whose figure is over a billion souls. Let's ponder the passages in 1John3:15 & Matthew12:37 in his homily reminding us of the consequences of our words.I hope your unpleasant words is accurate and based on factual evidence.

Anyway, let's move on to the core question that you posted;

First, the major difference on the Council of Trent statement vs. New Revision of Pope Francis is the Church allowing the civil magistrates the freehand without objection honoring and respecting the their duty to govern the citizenry in exercising justice & soveriegnty.

"The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent..."(Council of Trent)

vs.

"the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," (New CCC2267),

The Catholic Church thru Pope Francis as the Supreme Authority still recognized the power of the state sovereignty in exercising justice but the penal sanctions of death penalty is expressed more fully now in the Light of the Gospel attributed mainly on Divine Mercy. Compared to St.John Paul II Evangelicum Vitae And Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI pronouncement who only expressed their desires partially in abolishing the death penalty in all cases but messages are clearly inclined towards that direction.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said;

"The heart of the Gospel is Divine Mercy".

Pope Francis by declaring "all" fully expressed the message and desires of Evangelicum Vitae that is now more mature and ready by citing the improved current situations;

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

To emphasize the difference of Council of Trent vs. Pope Francis with the combined teaching of his two predecessors can be highlighted on one very significant event. The year St.John Paul II the Great contemplated that during his pontificate he said "we are now living in the Time of Mercy".St.John Paul II started the groundwork on Divine Mercy and Pope Benedict XVI continued he's advocacy and now Pope Francis magnified the Divine Mercy by stating the two powerful phrase;

"The Name of God is MERCY"

and

" The Divine Mercy is INFINITE but the Time of Mercy is NOT".

This words was a product of gazing AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, as Pope Francis said the touching words;

The Church as a Teacher always looks at the Blessed Mother, to whom Her Maternal Heart always guide the Church to implore God's mercy."

The Council of Trent teaching focus on the Just Judgment of God because God's ways and justice is perfect.

The Vatican II Church under Pope Francis and combined teaching of St.John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI focus more on the Mercy of God.

The same God is implore no contradiction on scriptures. God is both Justice & Mercy.

Answer to your Main Questions

The questions are as follows:

Is Pope Francis' revision of canon 2267, in view of Trent, a development of doctrine or a change/evolution of doctrine?

Answer : A development: with full clarity and conformity to the gospel, thereby removing the gray area by stating "ALL".

Tradition: teaching on man's dignity (OLD UNDERSTANDING)

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

They will never be beasts, but they can behave like beasts. "And if they behave like beasts, their dignity will suffer loss", while their personhood remains. Therefore we destroy the body, and leave the soul in God's hands, it is an appeal to the Highest Court. There is a difference between the dignity we have being made in God's image and the dignity of our bodies which are NOT made in God's image, and akaCatholic underlines it. –( St. Thomas Aquinas himself and St. Augustine himself. )

Notice the wording is not given with CERTAINTY "And if they behave like beasts, their dignity will suffer loss."

The teaching does not have faculties to guarantee that all the convicted criminals certainly loss their inherent dignity.(the uncertainty in this teaching has left room for future understanding).

vs.

New CCC2267: teaching on man's "dignity"(BETTER UNDERSTANDING)

The former formula does stipulate that if non-lethal means are sufficient to protect people’s safety from the aggressor, then authority must limit itself to it, as these “are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”

Yet today, “there is an increasing awareness that the "dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes". In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.”

The new teaching base on better understanding that "dignity was not lost even after committing very serious crimes" means the sinner is NOT BEYOND REDEMPTION.

This is where conformity to Evangelicum Vitae set in "it’s for this reason, and “in light of the Gospel,” that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Pope Francis put more Light in the Gospel of Redemption, that all soul's even those convicted of very serious crimes are not beyond redemption because their inherent dignity was not lost. As Jesus prayed to the Abba Father AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS.

"Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke23:34)

And Abba Father wants all men to be saved;

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.(1Timothy2:3-4)

Is the revision a prudential judgment or an absolute moral judgment? (This ties in with the first part of my question above, heterodoxy cannot be infallible)

Answer :**Both Prudetial & Absolute

*1. A prudential because the Pope together with Church Magisterium exercise diligence in observing social conditions and listening to the voice of the People of God.

  1. A prudential because, the Congregation of Doctrine Faith by powers vested on their office make it sure that the changes doesn't contradict Tradition and Scriptures.

  2. An ABSOLUTE by invoking now the better understanding that the "inherent dignity was not lost even after committing a very serious crimes."This understanding is more in conformity now by putting more Light on the Gospel by uphelding the EV teaching that life is sacred from conception to death and no one is beyond redemption.*

Hypothetically speaking, if the Ordinary Magesterium (fallible) CLEARLY errs, can the clergy or the laymen resist the new teaching in appealing to the Church's tradition?

Answer : Hypothetically YES. but we live in REALITY and the promised of Jesus in Matthew16:18 and Luke 22:32 will always prevails.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."(Matthew24:35)

In closing, the most important question to ask is this "Who has the FINAL SAY when there's a difference in understanding and opinion to a Church Doctrine when it comes to Faith & Morals?

Pope Francis is the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of Christ is the Supreme Authority but in his humility, Pope Francis said this very clear statement on who has the final say;

.“It is, in itself(death penalty), contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor,” he said.(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis said "ONLY GOD CAN BE THE TRUE JUDGE AND GUARANTOR". not Tradition nor any one. God is the giver of life therefore He is the only one who have the perfect right to take it back.

  • But did it even cross your mind that mercy can be demonstrated in the death penalty more than in a life sentence? One could easily make the argument, if you're just rotting in prison for the rest of your life it isn't as shocking as being schedualed to die in a week. And the shock can push people to philosophical reflexion on their lives, to make the right choice. – Destynation Y Aug 9 at 21:23
  • That is more merciful, because we do not desire merely to preserve the body, but most especially the soul. Secondly there is no development, because Pope Francis said it was an offense not against societal norms but against morals. The human person's dignity is Pope Francis' battle cry, not Divine Mercy devotion for guilty sinners, you even quoted it. He is putting the stress on the human's rights as opposed to God's mercy for filthy sinners deserving eternal damnation. – Destynation Y Aug 9 at 21:23
  • Thirdly you conviniently ommitted this part from Trent: ". Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives." Fourthly the hypothetical has already happened in history, Rome has not always been orthodox in its ordinary teachings and you should know that when answering this question. – Destynation Y Aug 9 at 21:23
  • @Destination Y, "dignity" is the image of God in a created soul..Now as it's said we come to understanding that "dignity was not lost". If the image is not lost Jesus AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS shed His most precious blood too for that soul to be redeemed. That's where conformity to the Gospel in Full is EV teaches, and St.JP2 and Pope BXVI continued and Pope Francis fully implied and expressed. The Redemptive Act of Jesus covers all sinners even convicted of a heinious & grivious crimes, there's no sins that God won't forgive. That's why the Divine Mercy is INFINITE, it transcends orthodoxy. – marian agustin Aug 9 at 21:33
  • The person is inviolable in as much as no matter what someone does they cannot lose their personhood, they are rational souls and will always remain so, they are not animal souls. But you're trying to make the traditional teaching, which I just summed up, crossover to "therefore we cannot kill" it simply makes no sense and you're going against the tradition notably St. Thomas Aquinas himself and St. Augustine himself. Who is foolish enough to have both of them answer in the negative and still strive for the positive thesis? It's beyond me. – Destynation Y Aug 9 at 22:09

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