Voting for pro death penalty president?

Considering the update to the catechism about the death penalty… can Catholics in good conscience vote for a pro death penalty president?

With anything else, we need to pray about it. In the US, we tend to play the game of “who will do the least evil?”, so that thought can help guide us toward a good vote.


I have no problem with it considering the Church didn’t at one point. Especially if said presidential candidate is pro-life.


The Church throughout history has been tolerant if not supportive of capital punishment. It is a subject that can be honestly debated with convincing points on each side of the argument. I think a Catholic in good conscience can vote for somebody who supports capital punishment.


Pro-life defends the weakest, most needful of humans. They are innocent and do not deserve death. With the death penalty, the court of law has determined a person has committed a crime that deserves death. I see no problem or conflict.


In my parish we pray for the sanctity of life “From conception to natural death”.

I’m not sure why we can’t be prolife and anti death penalty simultaneously.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m anti death penalty, but the bigger issue for me is abortion. So while I can hold my nose and vote for a pro death penalty candidate it’s harder (though I’ve done it) to hold my nose and vote for a pro choice candidate.


This is another example of why being a single issue voter is not a good idea. Whether that issue is treatment of the poor, treatment of those with mental illness, abortion, healthcare, death penalty, prison reform, borders, etc. Look at the policies of all the candidates. Weigh them up and vote for who would do most good and least harm.


Support for the death penalty would be a serious negative for me when considering who to vote for. Pro death penalty = anti-life.

The current administration in the US is pursuing an aggressive reintroduction of the death penalty. I hope that will be a consideration for Christians who vote


Yes… ! I would argue that in order to be pro-life, one has to be anti death penalty. Being pro-life is more than being anti-abortion.


Agreed. The problem is that, to my knowledge, there are no candidates with a chance to win, who are good on all life issues. So it boils down to proportionality: Which issue impacts the most lives?


I’d consider it a mark against them and would be concerned that they don’t recognize the dignity and sanctity of all human life.


You can vote for a pro-death penalty candidate in the same way that you can vote for a pro-abortion candidate. You vote for them despite that policy, not because of it. You weigh up all the policies they stand for and work out how many of them you agree with and how many of them you disagree with and then you work out which of those policies are more important than others, how likely they are to succeed in implementing those policies, etc.

In general, I can no longer be bothered arguing with people who don’t accept the Church’s teaching on the death penalty. Pope Francis has said what he has said. The Catechism has been updated. There will still be people who are so attached to their love of the death penalty that they will try to use every possible loophole and technicality to try to argue that black is white.


I would suggest that before you vote for any candidate, you look at where they stand on the majority of issues.
There are too many people who are one-issue voters.
Now that is not to say that their one-issue is not important, but that there are other issues to consider, as well.


It has been made clear multiple times in the past by esteemed Church theologians (not the least of which was Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004) that the death penalty (and waging war) does not carry the same weight as abortion and euthanasia; diversity of opinion on this question is allowed. A Catholic can be pro-death penalty and still remain worthy to receive Communion. One cannot say the same for those who remain pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia.

Pope Francis’ modification, as was the modification to the Catechism, remains a prudential matter, not a moral one. Because if it was a moral one, then the Church has changed a moral teaching, which is impossible. Despite the change, Cardinal Ratzinger’s opinion in 2004 remains valid.


Yes because the update to the Catechism didn’t abrogate the basis of death penalty in Roman Catechism of Trent, i.e. that the death penalty has retributive purpose (based on gravity of offense). Not to mention that in John 19:11 Jesus told Pontius Pilate he had power from God to use death penalty and Genesis 9:6 (whoever sheds blood of man, his blood shall be shed). Holy Scripture cannot be overturned.

Revision to CCC has to do with death penalty not being admissible on grounds of protecting the public (if you have 100 murderers and a certain 10 of them pose a danger to public, this says its not moral to execute all 100 in order to ensure you eliminate the threat of the 10, since that’s a utilitarian argument that is not permitted by Church). However, CCC doesn’t expressly abrogate the basis of death penalty in Council of Trent (retributive, in accordance with HOly Scripture).

Here is link for discussion on this, where both sides of the issue are presented


Very well stated.

Neither major party has much regard for the sanctity of life which is one reason I support neither.


The Church does not teach blanket condemnation of the death penalty for the guilty.

She does condemn the death penalty for the innocent - born or unborn.

You may have to write in a candidate.

1 Like

I’ve had to consider this very point since the Church decided against the death penalty. I was, at that point, very much in favor of its use.
In my “gut,” I’m still in favor of it because of the deterrent potential. And I personally am bound by conscience to not support it. However, I do not see that voting for someone who aligns with most, but not all factors regarding my Catholic beliefs, is sinful. Of course only someone in a position of Church Authority could really make that call, but if that is the only “ding” on a candidate I otherwise fully support, and no other candidates seem worthy based on my beliefs, then I will vote for that candidate with 1 ding.
Am certainly not going to abstain from voting because there’s no perfect candidate according to our Teaching. It hasn’t worked like that since there was a Holy Roman Emperor that I know of…

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