Catholic Dictionary




A deprivation of some spiritual or temporal good by a proper authority as a corrective punishment for a criminal or delinquent act. The gravity of a penalty does not depend only on the malic of an act but also on the circumstances and consequences of what was done. Canon law states that the Church founded by Christ has the right and duty to inflict penalties for the correction of delinquent actions but recommends resorting to penal measures only when absolutely necessary, and to use them in moderation. Everyone subject to Church laws may be subject to Church penalties, and the same authority that can exempt a person from such a law may also exempt from the penalty attached to its violation.