I promised to comment further on the change in the Roman Catholic Catechism on the subject of capital punishment now that the official Latin text is out. So I guess I should keep my promise. But I do not have much more to add except to say that it is not as certain as I first thought that Pope Francis has changed official R. C. Church teaching, although I remain appalled at his arbitrary tinkering with the Catechism to turn part of it into an act of political lobbying.
However, to avoid further ranting and to focus on the presenting question – it is unclear whether official Roman Catholic teaching has changed. I say this for two main reasons. First, there is a lot of debate among Roman Catholics whether church teaching has changed, which is a good sign. Second, as Fr John Hunwicke has noted, the letter that accompanied the Catechism change is hedged and “not how the Catholic Church talks about grave moral offenses.”
My best guess is that whether the Catechism change really is a change in official R. C. Church teaching depends on what future popes do with it.
Please do not mistake that for optimism. Given how Francis is stacking the College of Cardinals, I do not expect another robustly orthodox pope in my lifetime at least. But if this bit of pessimism and my earlier posts on the capital punishment change prove alarmist and mistaken, I will be most glad to be proven wrong.