The Pope is at it again! Contrary to what Catholics have been taught for centuries, this week Francis announced that the death penalty is wrong. That means “executions are unacceptable” in all cases. Previously Catholic teaching allowed capital punishment if it was the “only practicable way” to defend lives. So what is different in 2018? Catechisms are sometimes a helpful method of instruction so let’s try it here.
Why are executions wrong now?
Because the Pope told us it’s wrong and the Pope can’t be wrong.
Why can’t he be wrong?
Papal Infallibility. Because the Holy Spirit will move the Pope to the right side of any question.
How do we know that the Holy Spirit is involved?
Because Jesus gave Peter a special place and power in the Church that He established, making Peter the first bishop or Pope. Every Pope since then has that same power, given by Jesus.
How do we know Jesus did that?
It’s in the Bible and the Bible is the Word of God.
How do we know that?
It says so in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16)
Well, why should I believe what’s in the Bible?
Because it’s the Word of God!
How do I know that?
Because it’s in the Bible!! Aren’t you listening?
You don’t sound convinced.
Of course. It’s what I was taught. It’s what I believe.
But does that mean that every Catholic has to buy into the Pope’s position on the death penalty?
So when the governor of Nebraska, who is a Catholic, insists that an upcoming execution will take place, never mind what the Pope said, he’s –what? Not a Catholic anymore? A sinner? A heretic?
Give him a break! What’s he supposed to do? He’s the governor, and he’s following the law of the land.
He could commute the sentence to life in prison.
Can he do that in Nebraska?
The governor of Ohio did it, why not Nebraska? I mean, if he’s a Catholic and the Pope says–
Look, stop asking me questions! Just….Believe what you want to believe!
So I don’t have to believe what the Pope believes if I’m a Catholic?
Oh dear, we seem to have gone off the rails somewhat. But our inquisitive student raises a key question: how do we know anything, especially what is right and wrong? Read my book!!