Pope Francis and The Death Penalty

Pope Francis and The Death Penalty

Pope Francis recently ordered a change in the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, effectively reversing over 2,000 years of Church teaching. In early August the Pope announced that the death penalty (historically allowed under certain circumstances in Roman Catholic history) has now been replaced with a categorical rejection of the death penalty in all circumstances. This is more than just a story about “social issues”. It is a story about worldview, theology and what the Bible has to say about the value of human life.

As the Vatican announced in early August, “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 and she,” meaning the Church, “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” This is a strange about-face for the Vatican. Historically, the opposite position was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, due to biblical teaching. In case you’re fuzzy, here is a brief reminder of what the Bible teaches about capital punishment.

In Genesis 9:6, before the Mosaic Law was even instituted, God says this, “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; because in the image of God has God made man.” This means that God instituted capital punishment for theological reasons. He reinforces capital punishment throughout the Bible. Just to be clear, the primary reason it is morally permissible to execute someone guilty of murder or rape, is because they are guilty of attacking a human life – made in the image of God. This is God’s argument! This means that capital punishment actually upholds the value of human life! The Bible teaches that human life is so precious and valuable, that if you take a life, or violently assault another human being, you must give your life in payment. This is a primary issue. Human life is that valuable!

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor