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Catholic Dictionary




A penalty or reward that a person deserves for moral conduct. Its basis is the divine justice that repays each person according to his or her workds. Retribution more generally refers to punishment for sin, but theologically it also means the merit that a person gains for free co-operation with divine grace. More often retribution is understood to belong to etermity, yet already in this life divine justice is acting, even when the punishment is tempered by God's mercy. (Etym. Latin retributio, recompense, restitution; from retribuere, to give back, restore.)