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Catholic Dictionary




In general, the inviolability of the law, whether divine or human, ecclesiastical or civil. More properly, it is the means adopted to make the law inviolable. These may be natural means and comprehend all the beneifts and penalties, personal or social, the naturally follow from keeping or breaking the law. Or they may be supernatural means, which are known to exist only because they have been divinely revealed. Positive sanctions are those set up by legitimate authority in Church or State and, to be valid, must conform to right reason and revelation. Every sanction is only as effective as it is known, whether it acts as a stimulus (in promised rewards) or as a deterrent (in threatened punishments) to motivate people to observed the law. Sanctions are either temporal or eternal, depending on their duration. They are either medicinal or vindicative, depending on their purpose: to act as a remedy for violations of the law or to restore moral order and champion justice against violators of the law. (Etym. Latin sanctio, the decreeing of something as sacred, decree, sanction.)