Catechism and Captial Punishment

The Vatican issued the definitive Latin language version of its Universal Catechism on September 9, 1997. The primary change in the catechism focuses on legitimate defense and the death penalty . The new version reads: "The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude . . . recourse to the death penalty when it is the only practical way to efficiently defend the lives of human beings from the unjust aggressor." It continues, "Today, in fact, because the means states have to repress crime efficiently and render [criminals] inoffensive . . the cases where it is absolutely necessary to suppress the guilty are today very rare, if not practically non-existent."