The death penalty - right or wrong


I am pro-life for the whole life, period.


Pope Francis has changed the text of the Catechism to declare the death penalty as inadmissible . ‘Thou shalt not kill’ applies to everyone, even one who has committed murder. It is probably in our human natures to want capital punishment because of a desire for revenge . But, we are all sinners. And how can it be moral and ethical to hire an executioner to take another’s life? It does nothing to bring back the life of the victim .


I agree with you. I wasn’t arguing otherwise


In the US, it is no longer necessary to kill someone to protect society from them.

Fortunately, Thomas Aquinas is not the final authority on the matter.


Certainly in most of the developed world, we have the infrastructure that makes the DP unnessecary for society.

However, many countries do not have that blessing.


Moral truth is not something that can change from one pope to the next.

This is not what the church teaches.

And thus that which is lawful to God is lawful for His ministers when they act by His mandate. It is evident that God who is the Author of laws, has every right to inflict death on account of sin. For “the wages of sin is death.” Neither does His minister sin in inflicting that punishment. The sense, therefore, of “Thou shalt not kill” is that one shall not kill by one’s own authority. (Catechism of St. Thomas)

What is more hideous than a hangman? What is more cruel and ferocious than his character? And yet he holds a necessary post in the very midst of laws, and he is incorporated into the order of a well-regulated state; himself criminal in character, he is nevertheless, by others’ arrangement, the penalty of evildoers. (St. Augustine)


But with this saying whoever sheds the blood of man, then there blood should be shed as well… then the blood of that man will be on someone else. I think we need to also understand that in those times God would send angels and prophets to the people to help them with those decisions and not just doing it out of anger.
God is pro life like you said, so if a person murders, they need to be killed? and then the person that kills that one is then a murderer too


Protection is not the primary objective of punishment; it is a secondary goal. It is the primary objective that must always determine the extent of a punishment, and the primary objective is retribution - retributive justice.


The authority to punish resides solely with the State. Carrying out a capital sentence is the execution of justice, it is not murder.

…when Our Lord says: “You have heard that it hath been said of old, an eye for an eye, etc.,” He does not condemn that law, nor forbid a magistrate to inflict the poena talionis, but He condemns the perverse interpretation of the Pharisees, and forbids in private citizens the desire for and the seeking of vengeance. For God promulgates the holy law that the magistrate may punish the wicked by the poena talionis; whence the Pharisees infer that it is lawful for private citizens to seek vengeance (St. Bellarmine)


Wrong. Strongly disagree with it and always have.


I think more people might be against capital punishment if liberal judges and parole boards stopped letting killers out of prison…to kill again.


I don’t know if I have a real opinion on the morality of the death penalty. All I know is that the Church currently authoritatively teaches that the death penalty is inadmissible, so that’s what I hold to.

I used to think along the lines of, it should only be used as a last resort, to protect society from that criminal, such as in the hypothetical case of a serial killer who keeps escaping prison only to kill more victims each time. But after reasoning with that, it seemed like that was saying the ends justify the means, which the Church does not agree with. More recently, I have come across the idea that the death penalty could be used as a form of penance (I don’t think that’s the right word, but the word used slips my mind at the moment). In other words, if a criminal on death row repents and does confession, he could accept his death as the temporal consequences of his sin and that would act in a cleansing or meritorious manner. I’m not sure if this is convincing to me or not, though.


I see a bizarre contradiction in capital punishment and morality.

Person A is trying to kill Person B’s family.
Person B is allowed, by practically all measures of ethics, morality, and the law, to defend himself and his family up to and including killing Person A.

B is obligated by ethics, morality, and the law, to preserve A’s life after the murder attempt is over, regardless of whether A was successful.

B may as well yell over the din of gunfire, “A! I’m allowed to kill you up until you either kill my family or quit trying. Then I have to pray that you don’t get capital punishment. And I’ll call 9-1-1 for an ambulance if you’re hurt. Just thought you’d want to know how this will turn out for you.”


I think the word you’re looking for is expiation.

To go on to assert that a life should not be ended because that would remove the possibility of making expiation, is to ignore the great truth that capital punishment is itself expiatory…"

“The most irreligious aspect of this argument against capital punishment is that it denies its expiatory value which, from a religious point of view, is of the highest importance because it can include a final consent to give up the greatest of all worldly goods. This fits exactly with St. Thomas’s opinion that as well as canceling out any debt that the criminal owes to civil society, capital punishment can cancel all punishment due in the life to come.” (Romano Amerio)


Yes, that’s what I was looking for, thank you.


From a very practical point of view the death penalty should be abolished in the US. It is very expensive to put someone to death for their crimes. It is much cheaper for the states to house them in prison for the rest of their natural lives.

I am against the death penalty regardless the crime. I used to believe the death penalty was justice for the worst of the crimes until I had an experience up close with an execution and the trauma it causes. I no longer believe the death penalty is just.


Well, in Oregon a few years ago we had two prisoners on death row, and both, independently attempted to short-stop their appeals and requested to be put to death; both had the position that life without parole was undoable.

Our then governor commuted the sentences to life without parole, as he was anti-death penalty…


How are human beings without the attribute of omniscience that only God has, supposed to determine the extent of punishment that serves retribution? The answer is that we simply can’t. We are charged with the authority only in relation to the common good. Aquinas explains this limitation to human justice.

(The power of human law)

"Whatever is for an end should be proportionate to that end. Now the end of law is the common good; because, as Isidore says (Etym. v, 21) that “;law should be framed, not for any private benefit, but for the common good of all the citizens.”; Hence human laws should be proportionate to the common good. Now the common good comprises many things. Wherefore law should take account of many things, as to persons, as to matters, and as to times. Because the community of the state is composed of many persons; and its good is procured by many actions; nor is it established to endure for only a short time, but to last for all time by the citizens succeeding one another, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ii, 21; xxii, 6). " (ST I II 96 Art1)

Aquinas in covering Justice, explains in depth the nature of human justice and how it to be arrived at.

"…the matter of justice is external operation, in so far as an operation or the thing used in that operation is duly proportionate to another person, wherefore the mean of justice consists in a certain proportion of equality between the external thing and the external person. Now equality is the real mean between greater and less, as stated in Metaph. x [Didot ed., ix, 5; Cf. Ethic. v, 4: wherefore justice observes the real mean."

"We may speak of a thing being good simply in two ways. First a thing may be good in every way: thus the virtues are good; and there is neither mean nor extremes in things that are good simply in this sense. Secondly a thing is said to be good simply through being good absolutely i.e. in its nature, although it may become evil through being abused. Such are riches and honors; and in the like it is possible to find excess, deficiency and mean, as regards men who can use them well or ill: and it is in this sense that justice is about things that are good simply." (ST II II 58 10)

He is basically saying that there are some things that are intrinsically good such as the virtues ie. they are always good acts regardless of external factors. On the other hand, legal applications of justice are not intrinsically good. They may be evil if they don’t conform to the dictates of external service to the common good. It would therefore constitute an abuse of justice to defend a law that no longer serves the common good.


You analogy falls apart. If B is making an attempt to kill A or a family member of A, A has the right (and many believe, the duty) to defend themselves and others; shooting B is in self defense within most, if not all jurisdictions and there is no criinal penalty.

Subject in some jurisdictions to some issues.

And if A wounds B, A is not required either in law or in morality to put themselves in harms way to try to save B.


Could you be specific about the “liberal judges” who give killers parole? Propaganda generalities?
FYI - Judges do not grant parole. Parole boards do.

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