Catholic Dictionary




The infliction of punishment on someone who has done moral wrong. In this sense, only God has the right to avenge wrongdoing. He may delegate this right to those in legitimate authority, as St. Paul declares, speaking of civil rulers, that "the authorities are there to serve God; they carry out God's revenge by punishing wrongdoers" (Romans 13:4). (Etym. Latin vindicare, to revenge, vindicate.)