Speaking at the meeting for the 25 years of the Catechism, Francis said that "It is not enough to find a new language to speak of the same faith; faced with the new challenges and perspectives that open to humanity, the Church urgently needs to express the novelties of the Gospel of Christ which, although contained in the Word of God, have not yet come to light." The death penalty is "inadmissible".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Tradition is a living reality, and only a partial vision can think of the" deposition of faith "as something static, while" it is a dynamic, ever-living reality that progresses and grows because it tends towards a fulfilment that men cannot stop, “ said Pope Francis during an audience marking the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum, that launched the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
During the audience organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Francis also expressed his explicit "no" death sentence, as a human life "is always sacred to the eyes of the Creator and of which only God is ultimately a true judge and guarantor”.
Francis's intervention started from what Pope John XXIII said at the opening address of the Council on 11 October 1962: "It is necessary that the Church does not depart from the sacred heritage of the truths received from the fathers; but at the same time must look to the present, to the new conditions and forms of life that have opened new ways to the Catholic apostolate. "
"Safeguarding" and "moving forward," continued Francis – this is the Church’s duty by its very nature, so that the truth embodied in the announcement of the Gospel by Jesus can reach its fullness at the end of time. This is the grace that has been granted to the People of God, but it is also a task and a mission we are responsible for, to announce the Gospel of our contemporaries in a new and more complete way. "
"In presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. John Paul II said, "it should take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has intimated to his Church. It should also help illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past."(Cost Fidei depositum, 3). This Catechism, therefore, is an important tool not only because it presents believers the teaching of all times in order to grow in understanding the faith, but also and above all because it intends to bring our contemporaries, with their new and different problems, to the Church , committed to presenting faith as the significant response to human existence at this particular historical moment. It is not enough to find a new language to speak of the same faith; faced with the new challenges and perspectives that open to humanity, the Church urgently needs to express the novelties of the Gospel of Christ which, although contained in the Word of God, have not yet come to light. It is that treasure of 'ancient and new things' spoken of by Jesus when he invited his disciples to teach the new man he brought without ignoring the ancient one (cf. Mt 13.52)."
"Our Catechism," said Francis, "presents itself in the light of love as an experience of knowledge, confidence, and abandonment to the mystery. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in delineating the structural points of its composition, reproduces a text of the Roman Catechism; it does so, proposing it as a key to reading and applying: The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 25)".
The death penalty is contrary to the Gospel
"In this horizon of thought and with these expressed aims I would like to refer to a theme that should find a more adequate and consistent space in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am thinking, in fact, of the death penalty. " The "progress in the doctrine of the last Pontiffs" and "the changed awareness of the Christian people, who reject a consensual attitude towards a punishment that heavily wounds human dignity," led Francis to "strongly affirm condemnation of the death penalty as an inhuman measure that humiliates, by whatever means it is executed, personal dignity. It is, in itself, 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". And finally "because God is a Father who always awaits the return of his son who, knowing that he is wrong, asks forgiveness and begins a new life. No one can therefore be removed not only from life but also from the same possibility of a moral and existential ransom that goes back to the community. " Concerning the death penalty, Francis recalled that in the past it was also applied in the papal state. "We assume the responsibilities of the past, and we recognize that these means were dictated by a more legalistic and Christian mentality. The concern of preserving integrity of the material powers and riches had led to overestimating the value of the law, preventing it from going deeper into the understanding of the Gospel. However, to remain neutral today in the face of the new demands for the reaffirmation of personal dignity, it would make us more guilty."
The changed attitude towards the death penalty exemplifies how "the harmonious development of doctrine requires that we leave out positions in defence of arguments which now appear to be against the new understanding of Christian truth." "Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision can think of 'depositing the faith' as something static. The Word of God can not be preserved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to protect against parasites! No. The Word of God is a dynamic, ever-living reality that progresses and grows because it is strained towards a fulfillment that men cannot stop. " "It is not possible to safeguard doctrine without making progress, nor can it be tied to rigid and immutable reading without humiliating the action of the Holy Spirit. "God, who had spoken to the fathers many times and in different ways in ancient times" (Eph 1: 1), "never ceases to speak with the Bride of His Son" (Dei Verbum, 8). We are called to make this voice ours with an attitude of "religious listening" (ibid., 1) to allow our ecclesial existence to progress with the same enthusiasm as the beginning, towards the new horizons that the Lord intends us to reach."