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. But experts say Francis' change could shift political debates, loom over Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and make it difficult for devout Catholic judges to uphold the law as written.
Rev. Peter Clark is the director of the Institute of Clinical Bioethics at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He says 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 some time.