3 – The death penalty contradicts God’s plan for man

We live in a society often scarred by violence. And, the greater the violence, the more our society yearns for peace as avidly as a shipwrecked man looks to a lifeboat. We note, however, that there are those who suggest that this peace can be reached by simply handing over the reins of law to the hands of crime, thus setting aside the most basic concepts of justice. What light does the Church throw upon the legitimacy of sanctions by public authorities to offenses against the common good? Does the Church absolutely condemn capital punishment? Let us clarify some concepts…


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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study


Sacred Scripture

The legitimate authority must do justice and chastise the evildoer

The Catechism of Trent

The Fifth Commandment – an exception: the execution of criminals. The civil authority gives security to life by repressing outrage and violence

Catechism of Saint Pius X

It is lawful to kill when carrying out a sentence of death in punishment of a crime

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty


Divine and natural Law permit the killing of a human being for public cause

John Paul II

When it would not be possible otherwise to defend society, the execution of the offender is necessary

Pius XII

The execution of a condemned man: by his crime he has already disposed himself of his right to live

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Those who, representing public justice, put to death wicked men have by no means violated the commandment ‘You shall not kill’
Great and holy men punished some sins with death
Fear of the law represses the evil and gives security to the good

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The slaying of evil-doers is not contrary to the precept of the Decalogue
The death penalty must be applied to safeguard the common good
Human justice should imitate divine justice
Both Divine and human laws command such sinners to be put to death out of the love of charity
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