Friday, August 17, 2018


It is commonly known that Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is a controversial figure.  He is more liberal than the previous popes, and he has made some controversial statements, even surprising and offending many within the Catholic Church.  The pope has also been on a campaign lately to rid the world of capital punishment, i.e., the death penalty.

On August 2, 2018, the pope has officially revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, changing paragraph #2267 of the Catechism to reflect his belief that the death penalty is always wrong.

Of course, details and comments about this whole affair were all over the news, and anyone can easily check the online quotes below from many media sources.

Now, concerning this serious topic, no one can honestly claim that the death penalty doesn’t work to prevent serious crime, at least on the most basic level, since it is all too obvious that dead people can no longer commit crimes.  Not only is capital punishment functional, but it is also a biblical concept.


But the pope’s objections to capital punishment rest more on emotional grounds, rather than on biblical or practical reasons.  He is willing to sacrifice scriptural principles in order to cater to the “increasing awareness” of the “dignity” of hardened criminals.

But note carefully the reasons for this pope’s desire for change:

  • He stated that “today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned’s crime may have been.” 

  • The death penalty, regardless of the means of execution, “entails cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.” 

  • He has said that “no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”  
  • “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.”

  • “It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.” 

  • The death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.”

  • Another reason it is to be rejected is “due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error.”

  • From an earlier letter in 2015: “The Church’s Magisterium, based on the Sacred Scripture and the thousand-year experience of the People of God, defends life from conception to natural end, and supports full human dignity inasmuch as it represents the image of God.”

Gee, all this sounds quite lofty, and really tugs on the heartstrings of our bleeding-heart liberal friends, but the truth is, these prisoners are on death row for a reason.   

The innocent victims of these murderous criminals also used to have dignity, but they don’t have it anymore – you see, it was stolen from them when they were brutally murdered by the very type of people whom the pope is insisting must now be protected at all costs!  One must wonder, is he willing to work as hard to protect the families of innocent victims left behind as he is with mobsters, criminals, and perverts? 
Those on death row are still able to receive visits from their families.  But the families of their victims will never see their loved one again. 

One Example

In the following link, the author gives an example of the effectiveness of the justice system in America for one American mass murderer:

“Jeffrey Dahmer raped, killed and ate parts of at least thirteen men.  As punishment, the government was planning to feed, clothe, educate, medicate, entertain, and legally represent him for the rest of his life in an expensive climate-controlled facility.  Families of his victims would pay taxes, in part, to keep Dahmer comfortable, warm in winter and cool in summer.  That type of punishment is supposed to scare and deter other potential mass murderers.  Even though Dahmer eventually did truly repent, the New Testament verses below indicate that regardless, he still should have been executed.  However, an inmate interrupted the governments plans for Dahmer to have a long life and instead he was beat to death in prison.”

Sad to say, but this example illustrates the fact that, in some cases, there is more justice delivered by hardened criminals themselves than by the weak, criminal-coddling justice system in America. 

Questions for the Pope 

The person who reportedly killed Dahmer in prison was one Christopher Scarver, also a convicted murderer.  So, what would the pope say about Scarver?  How should he now be punished?  Or should he be punished at all?  Even though Scarver murdered Dahmer, isn’t Scarver also made in the image of God, just as Dahmer was?  

And what if Scarver continues to kill people in prison?  Do we just keep adding new meaningless “life sentences” to his account?  What also becomes meaningless in all this is the term “made in God’s image” being thrown around.  This phrase simply sets people apart from the animals.  Being made in the image of God does not automatically entitle you to escape punishment for your crimes.  But if you persist in your criminal ways, then this just puts you in the “animal” category, according to your behavior.

The Cure

Withholding capital punishment from hard-hearted criminals does not necessarily produce repentance in them (Proverbs 19:19; Isaiah 26:10).  

King Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, gives us the solution to dealing with these evil people:

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) 

When our proper, God-ordained governing authorities do their job of dealing swiftly and decisively with criminals, as Israel did in the past, they are indeed doing the will of God.  Rather than these cases being dragged on year after year with appeal after appeal, the death penalty, appropriately administered and done as soon as possible, would work wonders for our society.  And setting the example for other lawbreakers, many of our problems with hardened criminals would be solved.

The pope insists that because man is made in the image of God, we should do away with the death penalty.  But God, Himself, says that it is for this very reason that we should KEEP the death penalty!

Genesis 9:6 – Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God He made man.

Read it again.  Yes, all men are made in the image of God.  And it is for that very reason that the blood of the murderer must be shed.  God is focusing on the rights of the VICTIM here, while the pope is focusing on the “rights” of the criminal.   Pope Francis misses the whole point of the death penalty because his logic is perverted.  He is trying to override what God says.

God also said that “… the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numbers 35:33).  Sometimes it’s the only way.  And the execution is to be done by the governing authorities, and not God.

Arguments Against Capital Punishment

It is obvious that God used the death penalty in the Old Testament, but some will argue that we are no longer under the Law today, but under grace.  That’s true, but notice that the death penalty was established in Genesis 9:6 (as mentioned above) long before the Mosaic Law came about.  So our accepting or rejecting the death penalty really has nothing to do with this dispensation of grace.

Ok, but isn’t Christianity supposed to be all about love and forgiveness, rather than vengeance?  Don’t we see this in the Sermon on the Mount?

The context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) is not about the responsibilities of the governing authorities concerning punishment of criminals.  But it is about the responsibility of individual believers to make sure their hearts are right.  It is to prevent our personal desire for vengeance.

It is not the job of individuals to “forgive” those people who have violated the laws of society.  Individuals can only forgive those who sin against them, personally.  It is the solemn duty of the governing authorities to determine, through fair trial and the evidence of truth, whether the law has been broken and what the penalty will be.  Man must be accountable for his own actions.  So, again, the Sermon on the Mount does not address capital punishment.

Someone may object that the Old Testament allowed the death penalty, but things changed in the New Testament, because it now says “avenge not yourselves” (Romans 12:19) and “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).  They may say that these are the “new Christian values,” as opposed to the “Old Testament values.”

But the context of these passages is in no way canceling the death penalty.  In fact, these “avenge not yourselves” and “love thy neighbor” concepts are actually in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18), as well.  These concepts didn’t negate the idea of the death penalty in the Old Testament, so neither do they negate the idea in the New Testament.

Some will say, “But what about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11)?  Jesus forgave her and let her go, so didn’t Jesus teach us here that He is against the death penalty?”

No, this was not a rejection of capital punishment (which would have been a rejection of the long-standing law in Israel), but Jesus did this to expose the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.  They purposely set a trap for him (John 8:6), knowing that He would be compassionate toward the woman.  But He also knew that in the case of adultery, the Law required both the cheating woman and the cheating man to be executed (Leviticus 20:10), and since the man wasn’t brought forth with her, Jesus sensed that she was very likely set up by the mob.  He detected their trickery and forced them to look at their own evil hearts, causing the crowd to slowly disappear.  So, again, this was not a rejection of the death penalty at all.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul was ready to fully accept the death penalty for himself, if the authorities thought he deserved it (Acts 25:11).

Also, in Romans 12:19 Paul tells believers not to avenge themselves, but to “give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, sayeth the Lord.”  Yet, a few verses later (Romans 13:4), he says that it is the proper civil authorities who “beareth not the sword in vain” to execute wrath and establish justice.  It is God’s will for the government authorities to execute His wrath on criminals.  So, we see clearly that capital punishment is both an Old Testament and a New Testament concept.

Ulterior Motive?

It is interesting that the pope has long denounced the death penalty and even opposes life sentences, which he has called “hidden” death sentences.  If that’s really how he feels, then where is this going to end up?  Will he next push for no jail time at all for criminals?  It is reported that Pope Francis remains in touch with a group of Argentine inmates that he ministered to during his years as archbishop of Buenos Aires.  It almost seems that he is trying to protect some “old friends” with all this anti-death penalty talk.  Could it be that he is just trying to get certain people “off the hook”?  Time will tell.

Some have even questioned the timing of this change in capital punishment, as well, and seem to suspect that all this could be a smokescreen to evade the clerical sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in the Catholic Church, to which the pope seems to have given little attention. 

But whatever the pope’s motive, he is wrong about the death penalty.


This change by the pope may appear, on the outside, to be very noble and compassionate for the “down and out,” but it rings hollow when almost nothing is mentioned of the victims of such people, and when all the focus seems to be on the plight of the “poor” criminal.  The victims are hardly an afterthought in the pope’s statements.

Pope Francis, since he is the head of the Catholic Church, may have the right to change the Catechism of his Church, but he has no power to change the principles of Scripture (which actually support the death penalty).  We believe that this change on the death penalty will have long-term effects.  It will be especially frustrating for the many living families’ victims of these horrible crimes.  It is this type of frustration and failure to responsibly deal with dangerous criminals that causes lawlessness in our society to abound.  Jesus spoke of this same frustration concerning the last days:

Matthew 24:12 – “And because iniquity [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

The more criminals that get away with serious crime, the colder the hearts of the people in society will be.  We will be seeing much more of this in the coming days, thanks to Pope Francis and his disregard for those affected by criminals.

Just to be clear, no one is suggesting a “wild west” approach to the death penalty, where mere suspects are hung on the spot.

Capital punishment is never to be taken lightly or casually.  Each case should be investigated carefully, fairly, and thoroughly.  The death penalty should never be enforced unless there is ample evidence of the crime and every reasonable precaution is taken to ensure the guilt of the person first.  But once the guilt is clearly established, the penalty should be carried out swiftly, as an example to future lawbreakers.

Romans 13:

v. 1) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

v. 2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

v. 3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

v. 4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.