VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marked the 25th anniversary of a landmark compilation of Catholic teaching by saying Wednesday that it should be changed to address an issue close to his heart: the death penalty.
During an anniversary ceremony at the Vatican, Francis repeated his insistence that capital punishment is ‘‘inadmissible’’ under any circumstance. He said the death penalty violates the Gospel and amounts to the voluntary killing of a human life, which ‘‘is always sacred in the eyes of the creator.’’
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued a quarter century ago by St. John Paul II to give Catholics an easy, go-to guide for church teaching, doesn’t exclude recourse to the death penalty.
While saying its need is increasingly rare ‘‘if not practically nonexistent,’’ the catechism says capital punishment is permissible if it’s the only way to defend life against an ‘‘unjust aggressor.’’
Francis acknowledged that in the past the Papal States had allowed this ‘‘extreme and inhuman recourse.’’ But he said the Holy See had erred in allowing a mentality that was ‘‘more legalistic than Christian’’ and now knew better.