Beccaria, la Chiesa cattolica e la pena di morte
| JUS - 2013 - 2
The essay is inspired by the volume of Mario Pisani, mentioned in the title of this contribution,
that retraces the insertion of Cesare Beccaria’s masterpiece – On Crimes and Punishments –
into the Index of Forbidden Books, due to the selection of the appointed Ecclesiastic Congregation.
Specific attention is recalled by the recent identification of some related documents and, in particular,
of the votum, written by Fr. Lazeri SJ, according to which the decision was taken on February 3, 1766.
The paper examines Fr. Lazeri’s three argumentations that were not directly related to the theme of
the humanization of criminal sanctions and to the issue of death penalty. Rather, these nuclei of reasoning
took into consideration Beccaria’s work as an utilization of references ascribable to the Protestant
cultural environment, as the evidence of the discontinuity of the philosopher’s proposals with
the practice accepted by the Catholic Church, with particular attention to some marginal observations
present in the work that were regarded as reprehensible. On this basis, the Author of the this essay
analyzes, for comparison, the position expressed on death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, specifically in the Editio Typica (1997). On this subject, it is deemed that such a position
considers extinct nowadays the conditions that may in theory, according to text no. 2267, allow the
use of death penalty as a self-defense case. Indeed, it is upheld that the death penalty has nothing to
do with self-defense that pertains to the contrast to an underway offensive conduct. The conclusion
is the expectancy, also given various positions in favor of the abolition of death penalty expressed by
the last pops and bishops, that the text of the Catechism could evolve toward the strict affirmation of
the inadmissibility, also in principle, of the capital punishment. This would sound also in accordance
with the theological reflection of the past few decades on the restorative and redeeming meaning of
justice in the biblical perspective.