MINNEAPOLIS – Pope Francis’ decree last week that the death penalty is “inadmissible” in all cases could pose a dilemma for Roman Catholic politicians and judges in the United States.
Some Catholic leaders in death penalty states say they’ll continue to support capital punishment, including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
But experts say Francis’ change could shift political debates and even loom over Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Rev. Peter Clark is the director of the Institute of Clinical Bioethics at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He says devout Catholic judges, for example, may have to recuse themselves from cases “if they truly think it’s in conflict with their conscience.”
As with abortion, many Catholic political leaders and judges have been grappling with the death penalty for years.