Earlier this month (August 2018), Pope Francis once again caused the ire of many a faithful Catholic after he ordered for the Catechism of the Catholic Church to have its section on the death penalty changed. Section 2267 in the text originally printed under Pope John Paul II stated:
2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
The "reformed" text of Francis now reads:
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
As one can see, the new text flatly contradicts the previous text of John Paul II. Text A says it's okay to use the death penalty, whilst Text B says it's "inadmissible". Just to clarify, this is what inadmissible means:
1 (especially of evidence in court) not accepted as valid
Now, here's the million dollar question: How does the death penalty go from being permitted to being inadmissible? Simple answer: It can't. A doctrine cannot be permitted one day, and forbidden the next. As I note in my Commentary #12, Fr. Rosica happily states: "Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants"!, Vatican I stated that the Pope cannot make known any new doctrine, but can only faithfully expound the Deposit of Faith.
As Catholics have been noting, as in the links below, the death penalty is expressly commanded by God Himself for certain crimes, and is also favourably promoted by such notable persons such as: Pope St. Innocent I, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, St. Augustine, Pope Leo X, the Fathers of the Council of Trent, Pope Ven. Pius XII, and Pope St. Pius V stated that sodomitical clerics (like those in the US Church right now) should be put to death.
Interestingly, Francis' only reference to back up his new text is himself! The reference is,
 FRANCIS, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.
When one reads the Address, one reads an interesting section. I quote:
It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity. It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor. [Emphasis mine]
The highlighted text is what makes this interesting. The phrase per se is Latin for "in itself". Thus, in this context, what Francis is saying is that the death penalty is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel. As theologians stated when they critiqued Amoris Laetitia,
1). AL 83; ‘The Church … firmly rejects the death penalty’.
The responses i) and ii) are in Latin, and translate to:
i) Heretical, contrary to Sacred Scripture.
Thus, the statement from the Address that the death penalty is in itself contrary to the Gospel is heretical, contrary to Scripture and pernicious. This, logically and sadly, makes Pope Francis, at least materially, a heretic. This is not me saying this, but credible and knowledgeable theologians. Thus, the faithful cannot accept this change, nor give assent to it, since this change in the Catechism constitutes heresy and is contrary to Scripture and thus to God Himself.
Sadly, this is not the only time Francis has promoted material heresy, and I doubt it will be the last. In fact, practically every speech he makes, and every document he writes, is tainted with some novelty or material heresy. Never in the history of the Church has a Pontiff done such a thing. Sure, some did promote at least one heresy (before recanting), but never on the scale as the current Pontiff. Francis has said some rather outrageous things, like claiming that Our Most Holy Mother may have called God a liar, or that Hell doesn't exist, amongst other things. A website was set up to counter these novel teachings of Francis. However, sadly, it doesn't seem to be updated anymore, for whatever reason; maybe because the novelties are so numerous and frequent that those publishing on the site got tired of it all?!
It is also being intimated that this "change" is a planned maneuver to see whether other parts of the Catechism can be changed, such as the Church's teachings on homosexuality and the like. Let us pray that this isn't so!
In fine, I am no longer surprised when Francis comes out with such things. It has now become a normal routine for him to say something offensive to the Faith. My response, other than ire, is to keep praying for Holy Mother Church, and to ask Our Lord to do what He knows to be best for the Church. Though, I must add, all this is very worrying, and is beginning to make me think that those who claim that Francis wasn't canonically elected (and thus would not be the true Pope), including Bishop Garcida, bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, US, are right.
It would explain an awful lot! But for now, it is only a speculation. Pray very much that Almighty God, through Our Lady, Mother of the Church, will bring to light the truth of our situation, and that He may show mercy to the Church and bring Her safely through this tempest.
I provide below some links to articles on this topic.
Pope Francis Is Wrong about the Death Penalty. Here’s Why.
BREAKING: Pope Francis changes Catechism to declare death penalty ‘inadmissible’
Pope’s change to Catechism contradicts natural law and the deposit of Faith
What was black is now white: Pope "changes Catechism" to declare death penalty "inadmissible in all cases".
Heresy in the Catechism. Wolf in the Vatican. No Shepherds in Sight.
Killing Capital Punishment: Francis vs. the Catholic Church
‘Doctrinal error’: Catholics react to Pope Francis’ new teaching against death penalty
The Death Penalty, Instituted by God Himself (The Biblical Basis for Catholic Teaching on Capital Punishment)
Changing Doctrine: Pope Francis vs. Cardinal John Henry Newman
Follow the Bouncing Catechism
75 clergy, scholars appeal to Cardinals: Urge Francis to ‘withdraw’ death penalty teaching