Is there such a thing is a "righteous anger" for a Christian?

For what I know, any kind of anger is prohibited to a Christian, only God can be angry and even has wrath.

"Only the person who becomes irate without reason, sins. Whoever becomes irate for a just reason is not guilty. Because, if ire were lacking, the science of God would not progress, judgments would not be sound, and crimes would not be repressed.

Further, the person who does not become irate when he has cause to be, sins. For an unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices: it fosters negligence, and stimulates not only the wicked, but above all the good, to do wrong."

  • Saint John Chrysostom

The type of anger that is mortally sinful for Catholics is extreme anger that, according to the Catechism, results in a desire to kill or seriously harm a neighbour.

I hope this helps!

I use as my personal rule of thumb - ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’.

'Righteous versus Unrighteous Anger (CCC 2302-3)

Anger is a desire for revenge. Anger is the passion (emotion) by which a man reacts to evil, real or apparent, and seeks vindication of his rights, that is, justice. By itself the passion is neither moral or immoral, but becomes so by reason or its being ordered or disordered - that is, reasonable according to the circumstances. An ordered anger is directed to a legitimate object, and, with an appropriate degree of vehemence. An inordinate anger is directed either to an illegitimate object, or, with an unreasonable vehemence. As St. Thomas Aquinas notes, vice may be by defect, as well as excess. So, the presence of evil should provoke a righteous anger, which if absent constitutes a sinful insensibility.

Consider the just anger of the Lord to the presence in the Temple of the money-changers and the action He took (John 2:13-17). Provoked by this offense against His Father, Jesus formed whips and drove them from the Temple. Righteous anger, and the acts which flow from it, intend the correction of vice (both for the good of the individual sinner and the common good), the restoring of the order of justice disturbed by sin, and the restraint of further evil.

On the other hand, unjust anger seeks to do evil to another for its own sake, the harm to body or soul that it entails. While one may desire, and employ, physical force for the sake of correction, restraint of evil and restoring justice, even if it entails injury and death, one may never desire it for its own sake. To desire some slight injury for an evil motive would be venially sinful. To desire grave injury or death would be gravely sinful. A Christian may never, of course, desire the damnation of the evil doer. Charity requires that we will the good, especially the ultimate good, salvation, for every human being. Unfortunately, the entertainment media often promotes an image of anger and vengeance which is closer to blood lust than to justice.’


CONT 2/2 - The Work of Justice and the Tranquility of Order (CCC 2304-6)

Whether it is justice within society, or the interior justice of holiness, peace is its fruit. Righteous anger, and the means it employs, should not knowingly produce less justice and less peace than existed before evil intervened. Human prudence, however, is fallible. It cannot necessarily predict the ploys of the adversary, both human and demonic. In addition, fallen human nature is inclined to sin, and thus prone to respond with excess to provocation. Thus, even virtue and a well-formed conscience can fail to produce the desired result of justice and peace. Great restraint must be shown, therefore, in the use of violence to achieve justice. In addition to the efforts of those who work assiduously for peace, “the peacemakers”, society needs the example of those who renounce violence altogether. Their “witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death” should serve to restrain the use of even justified force. Such conscientious objection is a valuable service to society. As the Catechism makes clear, it must be accompanied by the willingness to serve in other capacities (cf. 2311), however.

Just War (2307-17)

All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. Despite this admonition of the Church, it sometimes becomes necessary to use force to obtain the end of justice. This is the right, and the duty, of those who have responsibilities for others, such as civil leaders and police forces. While individuals may renounce all violence those who must preserve justice may not do so, though it should be the last resort, “once all peace efforts have failed.” [Cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 79, 4]

As with all moral acts the use of force to obtain justice must comply with three conditions to be morally good. First, the act must be good in itself. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit in itself. Second, it must be done with a good intention, which as noted earlier must be to correct vice, to restore justice or to restrain evil, and not to inflict evil for its own sake. Thirdly, it must be appropriate in the circumstances. An act which may otherwise be good and well motivated can be sinful by reason of imprudent judgment and execution.

In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:

"1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

  1. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

  2. there must be serious prospects of success;

  3. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [CCC 2309].

The responsibility for determining whether these conditions are met belongs to “the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” The Church’s role consists in enunciating clearly the principles, in forming the consciences of men and in insisting on the moral exercise of just war.

The Church greatly respects those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of their nation. “If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace. [Cf. Gaudium et spes 79, 5]” However, she cautions combatants that not everything is licit in war. Actions which are forbidden, and which constitute morally unlawful orders that may not be followed, include:

  • attacks against, and mistreatment of, non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners;

  • genocide, whether of a people, nation or ethnic minorities;

  • indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.

Given the modern means of warfare, especially nuclear, biological and chemical, these crimes against humanity must be especially guarded against.

In the end it is not enough to wage war to achieve justice without treating the underlying causes. “Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war” [CCC 2317]. The Church has no illusions that true justice and peace can be attained before the Coming of the Lord. It is the duty of men of good will to work towards it, nonetheless. In the words of the spiritual dictum, we should work as if everything depended upon our efforts, and pray as if everything depended upon God.’

Is there a difference? I though wrath was simply an archaic or literary word having the same meaning. As a translation of ira in the seven deadly sins, we conventionally see “wrath” but you can also call it “anger,” can’t you?

To understand righteous anger, forgiveness is a must.

For many, forgiveness is a difficult virtue to master. When we learn the power and wisdom of forgiveness, we are bound to have reached an advanced level of spiritual maturity. Regardless the nature of any possible abuse that we may have endured, nor the severity of that abuse, full recovery from abuse cannot be achieved until we truly forgive our abuser(s). Any anger or resentment we hold within us, live and thrive within us, and become a part of our very self. We will never rid ourselves of this anger and resentment until we experience true forgiveness towards all. Seeing our tormentors suffer a thousand times over will only add to our own misery.

On the other hand, to endure unnecessary torment and misery is never righteous, but a perversion. Also, the righteousness of forgiveness should never involve our condoning abuse or any other forms of evil.

True forgiveness requires our valuing peace and love above all else. Experiencing forgiveness towards those who have wronged us resembles perfect love more so than perhaps any other human experience. Forgiveness involves recognizing and valuing the potential for love that exists within every human soul, including our own soul. Sins cannot be completely forgiven until we forgive, and find an inner peace with, everyone who has ever wronged us; for every ounce of anger and resentment that we hold against any other(s), there will surely exist an ounce of sin held against us – for harboring anger and resentment within our self is sin.

The Golden Rule states: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Our forgiving everyone, especially those we consider our enemies or adversaries, is to demonstrate to God that we are worthy of His forgiveness. Likewise, to find love for all our enemies and adversaries is to demonstrate to God that we have suffered long enough with our anger and resentment, and we are ready to receive His love.

Again, to experience the true power and wisdom contained within the virtue of forgiveness is to develop great spiritual growth!

The suppression of justified anger leads to a lot of depression. Sometimes we are hurt by others and it is ok to be upset about it. It must be dealt with appropriately though. Speaking confidentially to a spiritual director or wise friend is a good way. Gossiping to anyone who stands still near you for 5 seconds isn’t.

If you are not sure what is an appropriate way to handle anger, there are resources available which you can find through Google.


There is no such thing as a prohibited human desire or emotion. The human passions were created by God. The idea that certain (or even all) emotions are bad is a product of the gnostic heresies.

The morality of various emotions is where and how we point and fire them. It can be a sin depending on how we use. It can also be a sin depending how we don’t use it.

What about the Seven Deadly Sins?

In theology, virtues and vices are not emotions. They are actions of the will; choices of a rational creature. It is possible to show love for somebody in a moment where you do not have feelings of warmth towards them, or to show hatred for somebody in a moment where you do not have burning anger or envy towards them (i.e. an absence of feeling or caring). “Generosity”, “kindness”, or “faith”, are not emotions, but choices. “Lust”, “wrath”, or “sloth” are not emotions, but choices.

Emotions very often accompany a virtue or a vice, but that is not what they are. Lust is a sin that always carries powerful emotions with it, since it is connected to a person’s amoral capacity of sexual desire, but lust, by definition, is the choice to view and treat somebody as though they were an object. The emotion that accompanies lust is sexual desire, which is amoral; neither morally good nor evil by itself.

Wrath is a sin that carries powerful emotions with it, since it is connected to a person’s indignation or irritation, but wrath, by definition, is the choice to enthrone yourself in the seat of the Judge - which only belongs to God - and to dish out punishment for its own pleasurable sake. The emotion that accompanies wrath is anger, which is amoral; neither good nor evil by itself.

If it were the case that emotions were virtues or vices in of themselves, then that would mean that simply being tempted would be a sin. If you feel tempted to strike somebody - which is inspired by an emotion - and yet you choose not to, then you would supposedly still be sinning, since you felt the emotion. That is not the case. What makes something a virtue or a vice is the choices we make when those passions come to us. The same emotion of anger that saves the world from tyrants is the same emotion that raises those tyrants up.

Emotion: Anger
Vice: Wrath
Virtue: Righteous Indignation

Emotion: Sadness
Vice: Despair
Virtue: Sorrow

Emotion: Horny
Vice: Lust
Virtue: Fidelity

Emotion: Apathetic
Vice: Sloth
Virtue: Perseverance

Emotion: Excited
Vice: Reckless
Virtue: Zeal


As others have addressed, not only is there such a thing as “righteous anger”, but there is also such a thing as sinning through lack of anger. Sometimes, even for a Christian, anger is the appropriate and moral reaction to something evil.

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