(Latin: pæma, punishment)

An ecclesiastical penalty is the deprivation of some good, spiritual, or temporal, inflicted by lawful authority for the correction of the delinquent and the punishment of his crime. Canon law vindicates the right of the Church, divinely founded, to punish delinquent subjects by penalties both spiritual and temporal; though superiors are admonished to use penal measures only when necessary, and always in moderation. There are three classes of penalties: Another division indicates the manner in which penalties are incurred: All persons, lay or clerical, subject to the Church's laws and precepts, may be subject to its penalties. Those who possess law-making power can impose penalties as sanctions to law or precept. Penalties are removed either by absolution (for censures) or by dispensation (for the other species), provided the delinquent fulfills the necessary conditions of amendment or reparation, as the case may be. Anyone who can exempt from a law or precept can exempt from the penalty attached to its violation. Speaking in general, no special form of absolution or dispensation is prescribed.

New Catholic Dictionary

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