CHICAGO (WLS) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC7 Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich has weighed in on a major change in Catholic teaching after Pope Francis said the death penalty is never acceptable.
Previously, the Church permitted the death penalty if it was necessary to save the lives of others.
"They're not going to be able to fall back on this business of saying the death penalty is not an important issue, that we can just put aside as a kind of a preferential part of what we accept," said Cupich. "It's very clear now in the Catechism that this is the official teaching of the Church."
Pope Francis's statement now creates a new dilemma for Catholic politicians and judges, as they must decide whether they hold strictly to their faith or choose to make a personal exception on this issue.
"We have all sorts of people who do that on any wide range of issues, we are a pilgrim people," Cupich said. "We just hope in time people will continue to walk in the teaching of the Church...The truth is there we believe, we hope they change their mind about that."
It's an issue that certainly will come up for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is Catholic. If he is confirmed, he will join four other Catholic Justices.
"I've never been for a litmus test with regard to a set of issues...I think that's more important to question their record, rather than hypotheticals," Cupich said. "They really can't answer those questions if they're going to be objective when judging those cases."
Cardinal Blase Cupich on Pope Francis' anti-death penalty statement