“Our response to crime cannot stop at demanding justice, we must also exercise mercy. One of the most prominent Catholic theologians of the 20th century, Cardinal Avery Dulles, wrote this theological reflection on Catholic doctrine and capital punishment in 2001:
He concludes that, in modern societies, the death penalty should not be imposed when “punishment can be equally well or better achieved by bloodless means, such as imprisonment.”
In his 1995 encyclical “The Gospel of Life,” Pope John Paul II also wrote that “modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform,” and he quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:
“If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.” “
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