Christ is in our midst!!
You miss the nuance here. Both Pope St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict expressed their OPINION that the death penalty ought to be used sparingly and only when the community had no other option. But this expression is NOT opposition to it per se. This is NOT a change in official Church teaching--a teaching that spans the whole 2000 years of Church history and that has been taught in an unchanged fashion during the whole of that time.
Conversely, what Pope Francis did was instruct that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the compendium of official Catholic teaching, be changed to reflect a NEW take on this subject. It's akin to changing some portion of the New Testament to suit a current opinion.
The CCC was commissioned by Pope St John Paul II in the wake of the confusion after Vatican II as to what was officially Catholic teaching. There were those who, after Vatican II, taught that EVERYTHING was negotiable and up for grabs, while others maintained that official teaching could not change but that the Council had only asked for a fresh explanation of it and how it was to be put into practice. Big stuff here. The problem is that there are still certain elements in the Church who still think that the former position is still an option. Think about it. If everything is up for grabs, how does one know what is necessary for a right relationship with Christ? If that is the case, how does one know what the Truth is? If that is the case, what are we doing, what is necessary on our pilgrimage, and are we now back to being as lost as people were before Christ came?
Do you see the difference? Do you see the implications?