Church position on jury duty


What is the Catholic Church’s position on jury duty obligation in relationship to God’s Word about not judging others?

There is nothing in Church teachings which would prevent one from serving on a jury. It would more likely be commended as a matter of civic responsibility.

As to the matter of “not judging others,” that admonition seems to be widely misunderstood. We cannot judge the state of another person’s soul. We can certainly judge the appropriateness of another person’s actions. If that were not so, parents could not exercise parental responsibility, nor could anyone enforce laws.

Thank you for your reply, it helps clear up matters for me.


juries do not judge people, the jury is the judge of the fact

the gospel prohibition is against judging the sinfullness or condition of the soul of individual persons, not against judgeing the objective morality of an action, nor against judging the facts of a case

We can (and should) judge ACTIONS. Actions are not people.

We we sit on jury duty, we are first investigating the truth of a particular matter. The quest for truth is always good from a Catholic perpective.

Secondly, if the truth of the matter is that a person did a particular action, is there injustice in the action. Did it violate justice as expressed by a just law.

So once again, we are not judging a person, but seeking the truth be known and if an unjust action was performed.

All of which is in full accord with Catholic teaching.

Thank you for helping me to understand. Just a question, what example would be one of judging a person and not some action the person did? Trying to get this straight in my mind.


Well a PERSON is a union of body and soul created in the image and likeness of God. That is distinct from an action.

We cannot, for example, make any real claims on a rational person’s Salvic state ( are they in a State of Grace), as there are several factors that can come into play such as knowledge and intent. Only God truely knows those.

We can, and should, point out actions by a person that are of a gravely sinful nature, such as having an abortion, or burning a cross on a black persons lawn. We cannot claim that the person lost their State of Grace, as we do not know for certain what factors apply.

So, in general, we can claim that certain actions are evil, even certain outlooks, but we cannot claim that certain PEOPLE are evil ( in the truest sense of the word)

Does that make sense?

Judging a person’s action (permissible) = ‘you shouldn’t have told me that lie about xyz’

Judging a person (impermissible) = something to the effect of ‘you mortally sinned by telling that lie’ (we will never know on this earth that the person has indeed met all the requirements for mortal sin)

or even worse ‘you’re going to go to hell for that lie’ (since going to Hell depends upon the state of the person’s soul at death, which we will never know in this life, and how exactly God judges them, which again we won’t know on this earth).

Thanks Everyone,

Thanks for clearing up this issue, which actually goes beyond the jury duty issue. Now I understand the difference. I was never too clear on this for along time.

Thank alot.

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