The Catholic Church has changed its teaching on the death penalty. It is now unacceptable in all cases. Traditionally the Church allowed for the death penalty in extreme cases. But now it has changed its teaching to reflect Pope Francis's complete rejection of the death penalty.As reported by CBS this morning. And it is, at least on some level, true.
So, what do we get from this? 1) the Catholic Church changes its teachings. 2) it does this when the Pope says so. 3) it doesn't matter what it used to teach. It matters what it teaches today.
Now, Catholics will have a way around this. They will insist it's either development of doctrine, or was always there and the result of some old hardness of hearts, or something. But as a former non-believer, what you don't want to hear is that a religion 'changes its teachings.' As much as you might want it to do so in the temporary, it's like kids and parents. Kids might want their parents to let them do anything they want, but what they really want is parents who discipline them and teach them responsibility.
Same with religion. You understand that churches will have opinions now that they didn't have centuries ago, such as commenting on the Internet or praying for safe flights. You get that things have to be adapted to. But you don't want to hear 'changes teachings.' As a non-Catholic Christian, you certainly don't want to hear 'because the Pope says so.' As a non-believer groping for God, you instinctively know that what the world provides isn't the answer. The last thing you want is a religion that will surely follow suite when the world says jump.
Granted, I'm sure the media spin on what just happened is as accurate as most of its reporting. Which isn't saying much. Nonetheless, not in my life have I seen the Catholic Church so ripe for misreporting as it has been under the leadership of Pope Francis. It's as if he begs for the inaccurate and twisted accounts of what is going on. Meanwhile, the Barque continues to gush people. Assuming, of course, that the media report isn't accurate. That remains to be seen.
Update: A reader pinged me with something I missed, and I was also sent this. Granted, I skimmed Mark's post because I knew what he would say. But I missed his invoking the modern Racism. Note his use of 'White' Conservatives, as if they are the only ones who support the Death Penalty in America. Judging people because of their skin color is an intrinsic evil, even if it's the skin color that all the hip kids on the playground are hating on. Kudos to Orthodox Christians for making that clear. On the other hand, flee Christians who go along with the latest evils because they happen to be promoted by all the beautiful people who go to the best parties and give out the most awesome awards. Nothing suggests a flaw in the approach to Church's current instruction more than one who invokes a grave evil to celebrate the overthrow of a Church teaching.
As for the link, that's Dreher trying to ponder what has actually happened. Leftist Catholics and those who are stuck with their loyalties to Pope Francis have no choice but to say this is obviously what the Church has always taught, we're just now making the necessary adjustments since all of the prison breakouts, violence, expanded ability to incite violence through the internet, and inner-prison violence doesn't take away from the fact that we no longer need things like the death penalty to protect society. Pope Francis is on a mission to change the Church by not changing it. So far, he is doing a stellar job.
Update II: It looks like Mark has unpacked the issue more than he had. Basically it's resting on what I said: Development of Doctrine. Since the Church didn't arrive on day one with the entire canon of Catholic Teaching in one book the day after the Ascension, that proves the Church is always changing. Likewise, he appeals to one of the worst arguments in history, the dreaded 'Right Side of History' argument that has nothing to do with the course of actual human history. Naturally there is plenty of judging others, especially Conservatives, who he knows are always asking when they get to kill more people. Personally I'm at pains to think of a time when the Church taught something was right as a matter of doctrine and later said it was wrong. Perhaps, but I can't think of it. Again, Pope Francis is pushing the Church to change. You can't miss it. He's making it so the Church doesn't have to change, or coming straight out and changing it when need be, as in this case. Nonetheless, accept it. All of the twisting and turning of common sense and logic to make it something it isn't doesn't do the Church any favors, not at a time when it is bleeding members and devotion like a waterfall.