May a Catholic Judge pronounce a sentence of Capital Punishment?

If a Catholic judge is presiding over a trial in a jurisdiction where capital punishment is legal (or even mandated), what is he to do if a defendant is found guilty of a capital crime?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is very clear that capital punishment may be morally imposed in the defense of innocent human lives: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor” (CCC 2267).

For a discussion on whether the death penalty be morally imposed for other reasons see Karl Keating’s March 2, 2004 E-Letter.

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