Capital Punishment
Question from Alexander on 05-01-2007:
Can retribution still be a legitimate purpose for capital punishment according to the teaching of the Catholic Church? I ask because many say, that since the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of Pope John Paul II capital punishment can only be justified as a mean to protect society against criminals, but no longer as a mean for retribution. What is true? Thank You.
Answer by David Gregson on 05-22-2007:
Retribution (along with rehabilitation, defense against the criminal, and deterrence) is one of the motives for criminal punishment in the Catholic tradition. Of late, it has not figured in discussions about the desirability of capital punishment. A rationale for this omission may be found in Cardinal Dulles' article, Catholicism and Capital Punishment, in First Things magazine.


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