Celebrating Someone's Just Death


Salvete, omnes!

Before I begin, let me say that this thread does NOT concern metaphorical/spiritual death, nor does it concern the death of someone occurring in any other circumstance but as a result of just punishment, either by law or in war. Neither am I here speaking of death as a gateway for the Christian into the presence of God. I am speaking of physical death, in the here and now, as a result of justice. Indeed, I believe other threads on this and similar subjects have gotten sidetracked by the above issues.

I believe it says somewhere in Ezekiel that God does not rejoice in the death of a man but that He rather wishes for his repentance. This verse has often been used to bar all Christians from celebrating in any sense the death of another person, no matter what the circumstances surrounding it.

However, I do recall reading a number of Scriptural examples where men and even God seem to be celebrating in or rejoicing over the death of men, though, admittedly, I cannot cite particulars, chapter/vers, etc. at present. I believe many examples of this can be found in the psalms and perhaps even in Deborah’s song as well as after Israel escaped the Egyptians through the Red Sea(?). In the very least, as I recall reading, the tone of these particular passages would seem to be a celebratory one. (BTW, if someone could help me out with the chapter/verse stuff, I’d much appreciate it.)

So, how are we to take these latter examples in the light of the passage in Ezekiel?

The best way I can find to do so is that what God is saying here is that He doesn’t take pleasure in the death of a man per se but that He wishes that the man would, rather, repent, therefore, not die and even live more abundantly. God indeed wishes he could live a full life, even though death in his case was the just outcome. It may justly be appointed for him to die, but God would prefer that he would repent. What do you guys think of this interpretation? Is it valid? Why or why not?

(BTW, here is not the appropriate place to discuss the validity of war generally or of the death penalty. Let’s try to keep this thread on the topic at heand. For that purpose, let us just say, for the sake of argument, that we accept death as a just outcome in cases of just war and in at least some, however limited, cases in civil law.)

Now, with this in mind, let us get to the question of whether rejoicing/celebrating the just death of another person, say, by civil law or in just war, is permissible and, if so, in what ways and with what limitations. Now, of course, I believe that rejoicing at someone’s death just because they died is always inherently wrong. What I am wondering about, though, are the following scenarios. Are they valid? Are they morally correct?

  1. We may rejoice at the death of another in the sense that justice has been done in the case of that person’s death. So, I suppose, technically, we are rejoicing in the fact that justice has been done generally, or even, in particular, to that person, while we are not rejoicing that the person died because we bore some personal and absolute hatred toward him or anything like that. Is rejoicing in another’s death because justice has been done generally and/or to that person in particular for his crimes, moral for a Christian?

  2. We rejoice in the death of another, particularly in war but also in other cases, because, through that death, an evil has been mitigated. That evil is no longer around to threaten that which it targeted. And, indeed, that evil man is no longer around to threaten those whom he targeted. Is this scenario, too, valid/moral?

  3. We rejoice in the death of another by rejoicing in our own increased safety and in our leaders who have accomplished that death in order to make us safer. Thus, we celebrate our military when it achieves victories even when the deaths of others that would do us harm (either general foot-soldiers or leaders in charge of evil against us) are involved. Is this moral/valid for a Christian to do?

I get that these are some very fine distinctions and that perhaps even I haven’t entirely fleshed them out. These do, indeed, take a lot of thought on the part of all of us. Are these kinds of distinctions legitimate or are we simply playing a vain game of semantics?

I have always supported the morality of all 3 of the above senarios and have taken the Ezekiel verse to mean that God doesn’t just like to go around killing people. He doesn’t do it out ofsadistic pleasure, but, He seems to say, He, rather, kills or allows killing for the purposes of justice. He would rather not do this, though, because He would rather have them repent of their sins. However, we might argue, when someone dies justly, God might rejoice and/or allow us to do the same for the reasons I stated above.

What do you guys think of all this?

Vobis gratias!


No, Catholics should NOT celebrate this even if necessary. This is because God does not want the death of the sinner but that th ewicked turn from their way and live. (see EZ 33:11)


Jews are NEVER to rejoice at the death of another human being, no matter how evil they may be. Death is ALWAYS an occasion of mourning, not of celebration. As Proverbs 24:17 states: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falls.” One may offer a prayer of thanksgiving to G-d for victory in battle, but not rejoice at the death of one’s enemy combatant. The same applies to murderers who are killed.



To take your three examples one by one, we rejoice that justice has been done (1), we rejoice that an evil has been mitigated (2), or we rejoice that our lives have been made safer (3). Even though other people were killed in pursuit of those aims, I still wouldn’t say that we are rejoicing in their death. That would be inexact.


No, we may not.
We pray for their conversion before death, even if it’s last minute, and we pray for God’s mercy.
Think about it: if we could rejoice in death, why would we be so Pro-Life?
Why would suicide be such a grave matter?

We hope for the best in the next life…but we never rejoice in death.


THis seems to be splitting some hairs to me. So if, say a Hamas leader is killed in battle, Jews may fire guns into the air as a thanksgiving to God that the battle was won (someone was killed but never be happy someone was killed?


A quiet prayer, not guns blazing, thanking G-d for His protection during battle is permissible. But this is not the same as gloating over the deaths of the enemy. It is the obligation of any Jew to bury the dead–friend or enemy–as soon as possible while reciting a prayer.


I just don’t see the difference.


I think it’s more of a respect for the dead issue. Corporal works of mercy and all that.
Proper burial of the deceased was a big deal in the O.T.
Remember the concern for Jesus body by Joseph of Arimathea?
Some believed Jesus was a blasphemer. But yet, they understood that the bodies should be removed before the Sabbath.
There was still respect for a dead person. It was the Romans that didn’t think it was a big deal to leave the crucified there on the hill.


If the imposition of a death penalty in a particular instance was moral, and the best of the available choices, we can be thankful for the goods that act brings (justice, safety, etc). The death of the criminal, as a consequence of the moral act, is not itself a good consequence, it is merely accepted.


We NEVER rejoice in anyone’s death. NEVER.

“The death of any man diminishes me.” --John Donne


The execution of a murderer, like deaths in war, is the price that is paid for the desired outcome.

A teenage girl has her eyes on a $200 pair of shoes that she would love to wear to her friend’s party, but she can’t afford them. Her father buys them for her. She rejoices that she now has the beautiful shoes she wanted. Is she rejoicing that her father is now $200 poorer than he was an hour earlier? I don’t think so.


I’m afraid I don’t follow the analogy. If you disagree with something in my post, could you point it out?


**Rau, **I’m sorry I failed to make my meaning clear. No, I don’t disagree at all with what you wrote. On the contrary, I agree with every word, and I was just attempting to explain why I agree.




I lit off fireworks the day Osama Bin laden died :cool:.

These are Americans celebrating the death of Osama Bin laden, pure patriotism! Sometimes its fine to feel happy when a evil person dies.


They are not acting in accord with Catholic Teaching. Are any of them Catholic? I hope not.


This is a little song that the world’s children were taught to sing as long ago as 1939, with the full approval, evidently, of Joseph Breen, a prominent and influential Catholic who was then the head of the Production Code Administration (PCA), the film censorship agency that enforced the Hays Code.

Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up, sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho!
Let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong! The merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know the Wicked Witch is dead!


In answer to the Proverbs 4:17 quotation:

It could be argued that the quotation here is talking about not rejoicing in the personal calamity of someone you consider an enemy because you are glad to see suffering come upon him. In this case, I think the psalmist has in mind, say, if an enemy experiences a downfall because of some foolish thing he has done/sin he has committed, you shouldn’t rejoice in the negative consequences of that sin that come to your enemy, as this is just hateful and sadistic. Or, perhaps the “falling” or “stumbling” is even talking about some calamity not even directly related to your enemy’s sin either against you or some other sin. In that case, we are not sadistically to rejoice in that calamity because that person is an enemey to you.

Indeed, the passage appears to speak of both a “falling” (which could be interpreted as a death in battle) AND a “stumbling”. (Not sure ifthese are actually different words in the original Hebrew, but the “stumbling”, to me, would seem not to represent so much an absolute death in battle.) Furthermore, the passage says that God will apparently turn good to the enemy over whom you rejoice(?). So, how could good be done to that enemy if he is no longer around after his “fall” or “stumbling” if it is conceived of as a death, in battle or otherwise?

Could this be a strong argument to make for this passage? Is it justified? Is it not? Why or why not?

Are there any good commentaries on it that could shed some extra light? Do they provide a more precise context and understanding of this passage’s meaning?

Lastly, how do Christians who take the position that I do in my original post reconcile their own beliefs with the Proverbs passage here in question?


As a more general reply to the thread thus fr:

If an enemy in battle shows no signs of repentance before that enemy is killed, is it not right to rejoice in the fact that justice has been done to that enemy in the sense that he has been rightly punished for what he has done? Of course, we would always wish that he would have come around, but, again, if that never happened, than we can say that that enemy received justice.

Indeed, why would God have even instituted punishments both in this life and the next for sin if there wasn’t at least something right and good in them? If we are to rejoice in the right and the good, should we not also be permitted in some sense to rejoice in the metting out of such punishments?

To me, just punishment is at least partially to satisfy a righteous anger over injustice. (Note, I say a “righteous” anger – an anger that is properly directed at the unrighteous act and not at the person’s very being in sadistic hate.) As I understand it, we have the right to be righteously angry at sin. So, we also have the right, I would argue, to rejoice when that sin has justly been punished. We can be sad that an individual had to die, but, at the same time, we can rejoice that justice has been done.

God is a merciful God but He is also a just God.

What do folks think of all this?

(BTW, it was the death this morning of the ring-leader of the Paris plot that got me to thinking of this issue again.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.