Jacques Maritain Center : Catechism of the Summa Theologica



Is there a gift of the Holy Ghost that corresponds to the virtue of charity?

Yes; and it is the gift of wisdom which is the most perfect of all the gifts (XLV.).

What is the gift of wisdom?

The gift of wisdom is that gift of the Holy Ghost which effects that man, under the direct action of the Holy Spirit, judges of all things by reference to the highest and most sublime of all causes, which is the wisdom itself of God in so far as it is made manifest to us by faith (XLV. 1).

How is this gift of wisdom distinguished from the intellectual virtue of the same name, or from the gifts of intuition or insight, of knowledge and of counsel, and in so far as these latter are distinguished from the intellectual virtues which are also called intuition or insight, knowledge and prudence?

In a few words these differences may be summed up thus: On the part of the intellect, in things of faith, there are several acts essentially distinct to which correspond the virtues or their respective gifts which are themselves distinct from each other.

The very essence of faith is the act that assents to things revealed by God. Upon this act of assenting, which is the principal act, there ensue certain secondary or complementary acts that perfect the intellect in the same order of the things of faith; and these acts are understanding and judging. The act of understanding or perceiving is, generically speaking, one only, and to it corresponds the intellectual virtue of insight or intuition, and in a higher scale of perfection the gift of understanding. The act of judging is manifold, for it is threefold: this act may judge of things, in general, according to divine reasons or according to human; or it may judge of things by the application of its knowledge to things themselves in particular. In the first case, the intellectual virtue which corresponds to the act of judging is called the intellectual virtue of wisdom; and, in a higher scale, the gift of wisdom. In the second case, it is called the intellectual virtue of knowledge; and, in a higher scale, the gift of knowledge. In the third case, it is called the intellectual virtue of prudence; and, in a higher scale, the gift of counsel.


Is there anything worthy of note in this doctrine?

Yes; we owe this teaching to St. Thomas Aquinas. He himself tells us that he did not perceive the harmony and the beauty of this doctrine except after many years of study and reflexion (VIII. 6).

Among these virtues and gifts that perfect the mind in its knowledge of the truth, is there one which, in perfection, holds the first place?

Yes, and it is the virtue of faith upon which all the others depend; indeed, it is the rôle of the other virtues and gifts to assist in the knowledge of this truth.

Which is the most perfect after the virtue of faith?

After the virtue of faith the most perfect is the gift of wisdom.

In what does this perfection of the gift of wisdom consist, in particular with regard to the gift of knowledge?

It consists in this, that by the gift of knowledge we judge of things divinely by referring them to their immediate and created causes; whereas by the gift of wisdom we judge of all things divinely by referring them to the highest of all causes, that, namely, which itself is independent of all causes and from which all other causes depend.

It is then by the gift of wisdom that one attains to the highest degree of knowledge to be had on earth?



Is there any sin which is opposed to this gift that is so supreme and beautiful?

Yes, and it is that lack of wisdom which consists in judging finally of a thing without taking into account, or perhaps even by contemning, the sovereign counsels of God.

What ought this sin to be called?

There is only one fitting name for this sin: it is abject stupidity or supreme folly (XLVI. 1).

Is this sin often found among men?

Yes; for, practically speaking, it is the sin of all those who lead a life apart from or in defiance of the things of God.

Is there an insuperable opposition between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God?

Yes, for each regards the other as folly.

In what does the opposition consist?

It consists in this, that the world esteems those wise who arrange their life in such a way as to lack none of the things of this world, and such people seek their last end in the good things of this life in contempt of the Good of God which is promised us in another life; whereas the wisdom of the children of God consists in subordinating all the things of the present life to the possession of God in heaven.

Are these two kinds of life distinct necessarily in every way?

Yes, because the last end of each is absolutely different; and it is the last end which rules all in a life.

It is then only by practising the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity and cultivating the corresponding gifts that man can tend towards his true final end, and is able as it behoves to view that last end in all the acts of his life?

Yes, of a truth this is so.



What is the first of the moral virtues?

The virtue of prudence (XLVII .).

What is prudence?

Prudence is a principle of moral action that perfects man's practical reason, so that in every action he dispose and order all things as it behoves, by commanding himself and those under him to do at each moment what is necessary for the perfect realization of every virtue (XLVII. 1-9).

Is this virtue of great importance in man's life?

Yes, for without it there could be no virtuous act in man's life at all (XLVII. 13).

If man has this virtue in its perfect state, can he lead a perfectly virtuous life?

Yes (XLVII. 14).

Why can prudence effect this?

Because in prudence all the other virtues are united, each single one being dependent upon prudence just as prudence is dependent upon them.

In order for this virtue of prudence to be perfect, are certain conditions necessary as regards its proper act?


What are these conditions?

They are, first of all, the elements which constitute it, without which it cannot exist at all; secondly, certain other virtues which are ordained to prudence and which prepare the way for its proper act are necessaiy and lastly, the division of prudence according to the diversity of objects to be governed or ruled (XLVIII.-LI.).


What are the elements which constitute prudence?

They are these: Memory of past things; insight into the principles of action whether in general or in particular; docility and respect for what has been determined by the wise; astuteness in order to discover a right course of action at a time when recourse to another is not possible; the healthy exercise of the reason applying, as is meet, the principles of the action to be performed to the manifold individual conditions of the action itself; foresight at the moment of acting as regards the substance of each act in particular; circumspection as regards all the accompanying circumstances of the act; precaution against obstacles or against whatsoever might endanger the happy result of the act (XLIX. 1-8).


What are the virtues ordained to prudence and which prepare the way for its proper act?

They are these: The virtue of good counsel; and the two virtues which ensure a right judgment: the one which regards the ordinary events of life and respects the established laws; the other which regards extraordinary events, and in this case recourse must be had to the higher sources of the natural law alone (LI. 1-4).


What is the act proper to prudence called?

It is called the command (XLVII. 8).

But does it not seem that the virtue of prudence is not so much the virtue that commands but rather that counsels, since a man is called "prudent" who takes counsel before acting?

A man is called "prudent" by reason of the counsel he takes before accepting the command; but prudence proper is in the act itself of giving a command with decision at a time when one has to act (XLVII. 8, Obj. 2).


Are there several species of prudence?

Yes, there are as many species of prudence as there are species of commanded acts; acts, that is, that present some special difficulty in the order of virtue.

How many species are there of acts of command?

There are four: the act of command as regards oneself, the act of command in a family; in a society; and in the army (L. 1-4).

What are these different species of prudence called?

They are called individual prudence, domestic, political, and military (ibid.).


What is individual prudence?

It is that necessary to each individual person for the leading of a virtuous life for his own individual good.


What is domestic prudence?

It is that necessary to every member of a family, so that each, under the head of the family, concur in the common welfare of the family (L. 3).


What is political prudence?

It is that necessary to the head of a society, whether an independent city or a nation, for the governing thereof as it behoves.

Is it sufficient for the well-being of a city or of a nation that he or those that govern be prudent?

No, there must be a proportionate prudence also in the people governed (L. 2).

In what does this prudence of the governed consist?

It consists in this, that each member of a society should strive by his correspondence to the orders of the government to further the common interests of the society (L. 2). (I)

Is the object of military prudence also for the furtherance of the interests of the common good?

Yes, military prudence is of great importance for the well-being of the society, since it is through the able commanding of the officers and the perfect discipline of the rank and file that the country defends its rights and repels the unjust invasions of an enemy (L. 4).


What is the gift of the Holy Ghost that corresponds to prudence?

The gift of counsel (LII.).

What is this gift?

It is a supernatural perfection of man's practical reason that makes him docile and ready under the action of the Holy Ghost to take counsel and to sift well everything that in life relates to salvation; this gift is therefore of the greatest help to man, for even though he possess all the acquired and the infused virtues he cannot do without this gift, which helps him to make a perfect judgment and act of command, since he is for ever liable to err. amidst the complexity of circumstances that accompany every human act (LII. 1, 2).

Will the gift of counsel exist also in heaven?

Yes, but in a way much more perfect (LII. 3).

In what more perfect way will it exist there?

In this way: the minds of the blessed in heaven will be wondrously enlightened by God as regards all human activity in so far as it harmonizes with the final end which is already in their possession; and this, whether there be question of those acts which, for evermore, shall be produced in virtue of the actual possession of the final end; or there be question of the help the blessed are destined to give until the last day, to those on earth that they also may gain heaven (LII. 3).



Are there any sins opposed to prudence?

Yes, and some of them are opposed to prudence on account of defect, whereas others are opposed on account of excess.

What are those sins called that are opposed to prudence on account of defect?

They go under the general name of imprudence (LIII.).

What is imprudence considered in this general way?

Imprudence, in general, is every act of the practical reason which runs counter to the rules of prudence (LIII. 1).

Can an act of imprudence be a mortal sin?

Yes, this can be so whenever man's reason acts contrary divine laws; such a one who spurns the laws of God acts with rashness (LIII. 1).

When is the sin only venial?

When man acts contrary to God's laws but without contempt and without peril to what is necessary for his salvation (ibid.).

Is any other sin linked up with the sin of imprudence?

Yes, indeed every other sin, for no sin would ever come to be if there were no act of imprudence; the latter sin, however, is distinct from and can exist apart from other sins (LIII. 2).

In what case does this sin of imprudence exist apart from other sins?

In every case when, without doing anything in itself bad or even when doing something that is good, one acts with hastiness, or with lack of thought, or with inconstancy, or with negligence (LIII. 2).


What is hastiness?

Hastiness is a sin against prudence, which consists in not making sufficient enquiry before acting as regards when one should act and in what manner one should act (LIII. 3).


What is lack of thought?

It is a sin against the rectitude of judgment; and it consists in despising or in neglecting to consider what is necessary to ensure a right judgment in conduct (LIII. 4).


What is inconstancy?

Inconstancy is a defect in the very act of commanding which is the proper act of prudence; and in very fact the inconstant man is he who for lack of a firm command does not effect what he had resolved upon after enquiry and the taking of counsel (LIII. 5).


Is this the only defect which touches the principal act of prudence?

No, there is also another called negligence, which is opposed to the principal act of prudence on the side of solicitude which this act entails (LIV.).

What is negligence?

It is the want of readiness in putting into execution, by way of command, the resolutions of the judgment, made after due enquiry and counsel, as regards the attainment of the end of virtue (LIV. 1).

Is negligence a great sin?

Yes; for it paralyzes all virtuous action; at times it hinders a virtuous act altogether, or it effects that the act is done only half-heartedly, in such wise that it loses most of its worth and merit (LIV. 3).

When negligence reaches also to the external act by enervating it, what is it called?

It is called laziness or torpidity (LIV. 2, Obj. 1).

Are these two sins distinct from negligence properly so-called?

Yes, for strictly the sin of negligence consists in the want of readiness and energy in the act of command in so far as this defect is due to the interior weakness of the will (LIV. 2).

Is it important to keep careful watch over the sin of negligence?

Yes, it is of extreme importance, for negligence attacks the very root of virtuous action and is opposed to the principal act of the practical reason from which the realization of every virtuous act depends.

Is negligence sometimes a mortal sin?

It is always a mortal sin when it affects whatever is of precept that concerns salvation; even when it is not a mortal sin, unless one is on one's guard, it causes a spiritual sickness that leads inevitably to spiritual corruption and death (LIV. 3).


What are the sins that are opposed to prudence by excess?

They are called false prudence and false solicitude (LV.).

What is false prudence?

It is that complexity of sins which vitiate the true character of prudence by seeking an end that is bad, or by exceeding the limits of prudence in choosing wrong means to an end (LV. 1-5).

What is that which vitiates the true character of prudence by seeking an end that is bad?

It is called the prudence of the flesh (LV. 1).

In what does it consist?

It consists in disposing our life in the interests of the flesh which is served as an end (ibid.).

Is this a mortal sin?

Yes, whenever the interests of the flesh are looked upon as the last end; if, however, these interests are not looked upon as the last end and as not ordained to the last true end of human life, then the sin is only venial (LV. 2).


The sins that exceed prudence as to the means employed, what are they?

They are the sins of slyness, with which are connected deceit and fraud (LV. 3-5).

What is slyness?

It is that false prudence which consists in using false and deceitful means whether it be question of a good or of a bad end for which they are used (LV. 3).

What is deceit?

Deceit consists in effecting by words or by deeds the projects suggested by slyness (LV. 4).

What is the difference between deceit and fraud?

The difference comes to this, that although both are concerned with the projects suggested by slyness, deceit puts into execution these projects whether it be by word or by deed, whereas fraud is confined to the execution of some project by deed only.

Are slyness, deceit, and fraud the same as lying?

No, for the lie takes falsehood as its end; whereas the three sins above mentioned take it as a means. If by chance the latter deceive, this is only to gain some end in view.

What follows from this difference?

It follows that lying is a special sin in the order of the moral virtues, a sin that is in opposition to the virtue of telling the truth only; whereas slyness, deceit, and fraud can be in divers genera of sins, not that they constitute any one sin in particular in the order of the moral virtues, but only in the order of prudence whose characteristic it is to be included in all the other virtues.


What is the sin of false solicitude?

By this is meant that solicitude the sole object of which is the seeking after temporal things, or after some empty vanity, or that which makes one fear inordinately the loss of these things (LV. 6).

Is there a solicitude for temporal things that is good?

Yes, it is that solicitude for temporal things that seeks them in a moderate way, by ordaining them to the end of charity, and by trusting to the providence of God (LV. 6).

What is to be said of that solicitude which regards the future?

This solicitude is always bad when it usurps what should be left to the future (LV. 7).

When is solicitude for the future good?

That solicitude is good when it contents itself to provide for the future in so far as the future depends upon those things which should occupy the attention here and now; leaving alone for future consideration the things that are future (LV. 7).


Is there any precept among those of the Decalogue which corresponds to the virtue of prudence?

No; for the precepts of the Decalogue formulating what has reference to the natural reason should bear upon the ends of human life which are the proper object of the virtues, and not upon the means which are the proper object of the virtue of prudence. But all the precepts are related to prudence in that the latter directs all the acts of the virtues (LVI. 1).

Since then the precepts are directly related to the virtue of prudence, are they as it were complementary and of later origin?

Yes; and they are to be found in other places in the inspired books, even in the Old Testament; and later on in the New Testament (LVI. 2).

Are there not even in the Old Testament certain precepts of particular consequence that forbid certain sins opposed to the virtue of prudence?

Yes; they are the precepts relating to slyness, deceit, and fraud (LVI. 2).

Why are these sins particularly prohibited?

Because in their external application they militate against justice, which all the precepts of the Decalogue safeguard (LVI. 2).



After the virtue of prudence, is the virtue of justice the most important of the other virtues?

Yes, after the virtue of prudence, which occupies a place apart in the order of the moral virtues and without which no one single virtue can exist, the most important among the other virtues is the virtue of justice (LVII.-CXXI.).

What is the virtue ofjustice?

It is that virtue which has for its object right or the just (LVII. 1).

What is meant by this?

By this is meant that the object of justice is to make respected among men those relations which are founded upon the respect due to existence and possession, which are legitimately the privilege of every human being (LVII. 1).

But how does one know that the existence or the possession of any one particular person is legitimately of such a nature or should be of such a nature?

One knows this by what natural reason tells concerning each man; also by that which, by common consent, is determined by the reason of different men; and also by the reason of those who are in authority whose office it is to regulate such matters (LVII. 2-4).

What is that law called which is founded upon what the natural reason dictates?

It is called the natural law (LVII. 2).

And that law which is determined by the common accord of different men, or that which is determined by those in authority whose duty it is to make regulations concerning the relations between men?

It is called positive law, which is divided into private law and public law; the latter is further divided into national and international according as there is question of private conventions or of the laws of a country, or of the laws agreed upon and established between different nations (LVII. 2).

What is the civil law and ecclesiastical law?

Civil law treats of the relations between men in so far as they are determined by the civil authority; ecclesiastical law in so far as they are determined by the ecclesiastical authority.


Does the right upon which the virtue of justice bears confine itself only to the relations of individuals of a society among themselves; or does it refer also to the relations of individuals with the society?

It embraces both species of relations (LVIII. 5-7).

What law is the first called?

It is called particular justice (LVIII. 7).

And the second?

Legal justice (LVIII. 5).


What is precisely the virtue of justice?

It is that perfection of man's will which inclines him to desire in all things, spontaneously and unceasingly, the good of the society of which he is a part; and also to desire that each should have what is his due (LVIII. 1).

What is the sin that is opposed to this virtue called?

It is called injustice; which, now, is in opposition to legal justice, spurning the common good which legal justice seeks to promote; and, now, is in opposition to particular justice which seeks to maintain what is right and just among individuals (LIX.).

In what does the sin of injustice precisely consist?

It consists in this, that with full knowledge one attacks the right of another; that is to say, that one acts contrary to what a rational will should naturally desire (LIX. 3).


Has the virtue of justice an act which is particularly proper to it, especially in so far as it is particular justice?

Yes, and this act is called the judgment, which consists in determining precisely what is due to each person; whether this judgment be given in an official capacity between two parties at law, or whether for love of right in itself the judgment be given for all and for all time in the desire to appreciate even within the soul the rights of everyone to existence and possession (LX.).

Ought this judgment, which is the act of the virtue of justice, to interpret doubtful things in a good sense?

Yes, whenever it has reference to our neighbour and his'acts justice should never either internally or externally judge in a bad sense so long as there remains any doubt about the motives of our neighbour and his acts (LX. 4).

But if, however, there is doubt with regard to things that might be hurtful to oneself or to others, may not one be suspicious and take precautions?

Yes, legal justice, and prudence, and charity demand that when there is question of some evil to ourselves or to others we should be on our guard even though our suspicions may arise from conjecture only (LX. 4, Obj. 3).

But even in this case is no reservation to be made?

Yes, even when it is right to take precautions one must not either in words or in thought pronounce a formal judgment which is prejudicial to another (ibid.).


Does particular justice comprise several species?

Yes, it comprises two species: distributive justice and commutative justice (LXI. 1).

What is distributive justice?

It is that species of particular justice which safeguards fairness in the relations that exist between the society and the individuals of which the society is composed (LXI. 1).

What is commutative justice?

It is that species of particular justice which safeguards fairness in the relations of men with each other in the same society (ibid.).

If one considers the individual members of a society as parts ordained to the whole, what kind of justice safeguards fairness between the individuals and the society?

This is the great virtue called legal justice (LXI. 1, Obj. 4).



What is the proper act of commutative justice?

It is called restitution (LXII. 1).

What is restitution?

It is that act whereby the right relation between one man and another is re-established, whenever this relation has been broken by the fact that one of the two has not received his due (LXI. 1).

Restitution then does not always imply an act of injustice?

No, for also the virtuous man may make restitution, by restoring what belongs to another immediately and with scrupulousness when such thing ought to be restored.


What are the essential rules of restitution?

The following, and they are those which natural equity dictates. By restitution, that which another lacks or might lack unfairly is given to him or restored to him. That which is restored must be the thing itself or its exact equivalent, neither more nor less, in so far as the person possessed it previously, whether actually or virtually: further, one must take into account whatever change may have taken place in the thing restored and make proper restitution as the case may be; and further, one must take into account the consequences that are or were prejudicial to the owner of the object due to the detention thereof. An object to be restored must be given back to the owner and not to any other person unless the latter be acting for the owner. He, whosoever he may be, who is in possession of an object to be restored is the one who must make restitution thereof, or whosoever is the one who is responsible for the act which was an offence against justice. Restitution must be made without delay, except in the case when the immediate restoration of an object is impossible (LXII. 2-8).



What is the sin opposed to distributive justice ?

It is the sin of the respect of persons (LX III.).

What is meant by this sin?

It is the fact of giving something or of refusing to give to a person what is for his good, or to impose something on a person that is burdensome or difficult, and this not by a consideration of his merits or demerits but merely because the person is such and such a one (LXIII. 1).


What sins are opposed to commutative justice?

These sins are divided into two groups (LXIV.-LXXVIII.).

What are those of the first group?

They are those which touch our neighbour in which his own will has no part (LXIV.-LXXVI.).

What is the first of these sins?

It is homicide, which affects our neighbour by deed, as regards his greatest good, viz., by taking his life (LXIV.).

Is this a great sin?

It is the greatest sin against our neighbour.

Is it ever permitted to attempt our neighbour's life?

No, never.

Is it never permitted to take away a man's life?

It is never permitted to take away a man's life, unless through some crime, he has merited death (LXIV. 2, 6).

When a man through crime merits to lose his life, who alone has the right to deprive him of life?

Only the public authority has the right to do this (LXIV. 2).

Whence does the public authority derive this right?

It derives this right from the duty incumbent upon it of guarding over the common good of the society (ibid.).

Does the common good of the society sometimes demand that a man be put to death?

Yes, because there may be no other efficient way of putting a stop to the crimes committed within the society; or because the public feeling demands such satisfaction for the expiation of certain crimes that are hateful and revolting (LXIV. 2).

Is it only for crime that a man can be put to death by the public authority?

Yes, for this reason only (LXIV. 6).

May public interest sometimes justify the putting to death of an innocent person?

No, never, because the supreme good in a society is always the good of virtue (LXIV. 6).


Has an individual, in order to defend himself, or his belongings, the right to take the life of the one who attacks him?

No, an individual has never the right to do this unless there be question of losing his own life or the life of those in his charge, and there be absolutely no defence other than that which entails the death of his assailant; further, in thus defending himself he must in no way whatever intend the death of his assailant, but only intend to defend his life or that of others in his charge (LXIV. 7).

What are the other sins against our neighbour that touch his person?

They are mutilation, which attacks the integrity of his person; flogging, which inflicts pain on his body; and imprisonment, which deprives him of the freedom of his person (LXV. 1-3).

When are these acts sinful?

Whenever they are done by those who have no authority, or who, having authority, exceed the just bounds (ibid.).



Besides the sins that attack the person of our neighbour, what is the greatest sin that can be committed against him by deed?

It is the sin which touches what belongs to him (LXVI.).

Has man the right to possess anything?

Yes, and to use it as he wills, without the interference of anyone else (LXVI. 2).

Whence comes this right?

It comes from the very nature of man himself; for since he is a rational being and made to live in society, his own good, the good of his family, and the good of society absolutely demand that the right of property be safeguarded (LXVI. 1, 2).

But why do these divers goods demand the safeguarding of the right of property?

It is because the right to possess is a condition of man's liberty, it is, moreover, for the family, the way par excellence whereby it is upheld in all its rights and is the guarantee of its existence in the society; further, this right of property effects that in the society itself more care is taken of things to the exclusion in a great measure of disagreements and litigations (LXVI. 2).


Does the right of property entail certain duties?

Yes, it entails certain grave duties.

What are these duties?

They are, first of all, the duty of taking care of one's belongings and of doing one's best to promote their productiveness. Then, according to the productiveness of these things, one must in due measure, after supplying one's own wants, use these things for the good of others who are in the society. There is indeed a duty in social justice of giving to those who are in need the superfluity of one's possessions, or of employing the labour of others, or of giving facilities for such labour to those who by this means earn their livelihood, and this one must do for the love of the public good generally. The state in the interests of the public good has the right to make levies on the goods of individuals as regards whatever it judges necessary or useful for the good of the society, and individual members are bound to conform to the laws made by the state for this end; there is indeed for them an obligation to comply therewith in strict justice. But the good of individuals and the need of supplying their necessities does not oblige with the same rigour, for there is no positive human law constraining one to this. On the other hand, the natural law demands this in all rigour. Not to succour the needy with the superfluity of one's possessions is to act in direct opposition to the natural law; this obligation enforced by the natural law takes on a sacred character through divine positive law, especially through the law contained in the Gospels. God Himself preached this personally in order to impress more on the minds of men what He had already graven on their hearts (LXVI. 2-7; XXXII. 5, 6).

If such are the duties of those who possess towards their fellow-men, what are the duties of the latter in relation to the former?

They must respect the property of those who possess and never take anything against their owner's will (LXVI. 5, 8).


What is that act called which consists in taking the property of another against his will?

It is called theft or robbery (LXVI. 3, 4).

What is theft?

Theft is to appropriate the property of another secretly (LXVI. 3).

And what is robbery?

Robbery is the appropriation of another's property by violence (LXVI. 4).

Which is the graver of these two sins?

Robbery is more grave than theft; but theft, in itself, is always a mortal sin unless the thing taken is of small consequence (LXVI. 9).



Are there any sins against justice that are committed by words?

Yes, and these are twofold: those that are committed in the solemn act of judgment; and those that are committed in the ordinary course of life (LXVII.-LXXVI.)

What is the first sin that can be committed in the solemn act of judgment?

It is the sin of the judge who judges unjustly (LXVII.).

What is required of a judge that he may judge justly ?

He should consider himself as it were a living justice, whose duty it is to restore in the name of the society which he represents the injured right to whosoever has recourse to his authority (LXVII. 1).


What then is the duty of a judge in the fulfilment of his office?

It is his duty to judge those only who come under his jurisdiction: moreover, in drawing up his judgment he must take as his basis the facts of the case as set forth by the parties in litigation, it being allowable for him to interfere only if one of the parties lodges a complaint; but he must always dispense justice in its integrity, not showing to the culprit pity falsely so-called, whatever be the penalty in the name of the law established by God or by men he may have to pronounce against him (LXVII. 2-4.).


What is the second sin which may be committed against justice in the solemn act of judgment?

It is the sin of those who are wanting in their duty as accusers, or who accuse unjustly (LXVIII.).

What is meant by the duty of accusing?

By this is meant that duty incumbent upon every man living in a society who knows of some evil that assails the society itself; he is thereby bound to bring to the notice of the judge the author of the evil so that justice may be done; he is free from this obligation only if he is unable to establish the truth of the fact juridically (LXVIII. 1).

When is an accusation unjust?

Accusation is unjust when from simple malice one falsely imputes crimes to another; or if when one is called upon to give evidence one does not follow up the accusation according as justice demands, either by making overtures to the opposite party or by unreasonably declining to follow up the accusation (LXVIII. 3).


What is the third sin committed against justice in the act of judgment?

It is the sin of the accused who refuses to conform to the rules of the law (LXIX.).

What are these rules to which the accused must conform, under pain of sin against justice?

They are that he is bound to tell the truth to the judge when the latter, in virtue of his authority as judge, interrogates him; and that he must never defend himself by fraudulent means (LXIX. 1, 2).

If he is condemned, may not the accused decline to accept the judgment by making an appeal?

The accused, who is not allowed to defend himself by fraudulent means, has no right to make an appeal from a just judgment with the sole object of retarding the putting into execution of the judgment. He may make an appeal only when he is the victim of manifest injustice. Even then he must use his right within the limits established by the law (LXIX. 3).

Has one who is condemned to death the right to resist the sentence of condemnation?

The man who is unjustly condemned to death can resist even by violence provided no scandal is given. But if he be justly condemned, he is bound to submit to the penalty without resistance whatsoever; it is, however, permissible to make good his escape should he find the means, for no one is bound to concur in one's own punishment (LXIX. 4).


What is the fourth sin that is opposed to justice in the act of judgment?

It is the sin of the witness who is wanting in his duty (LXX.).

How may a witness be wanting in his duty?

He may be wanting in his duty either by abstaining from giving evidence when he is required to do so by the public authority, which he is bound to obey in things that belong to justice; or whenever his evidence may prevent loss to someone; or by adducing false testimony (LXX. 1, 4).

Is false testimony always a mortal sin? Yes, it is always a mortal sin, if not always on account of the lie, which may be venial, it always is mortal by reason of perjury, and also by reason of injustice if one give such testimony against a just cause (CXX. 4).


What is the last sin against justice in the act of judgment?

It is the sin of the advocate who refuses to defend a just cause such as can be defended by him only; or who defends an unjust cause particularly in civil causes; or who demands an exorbitant sum for his fee (LXXI. 1,3,4).



What are the sins of injustice committed against our neighbour by speech in the ordinary course of life?

They are invective, detraction, whisperings, mockery, and the curse (LXXII.-LXXVI.).

What is understood by invective?

Invective is that sin which wounds another, in the honour or in the respect due to him, by words (LXXII. 1).

Is it a mortal sin?

Yes, whenever such words attack the honour of another in a grave way. The sin is venial only if our neighbour's honour is not seriously injured, or if one has no intention of seriously injuring another (LXXII. 2).

Is one bound in justice to treat others with the reverence due to them?

Yes, one is strictly bound in justice to do this, for the harmony of all living in a society is dependent upon this (LXXII. 1-3).

Upon what is this duty founded and what is its importance?

It is founded upon this, that the honour of each one is a thing which men cherish most. Even the least among men has a right to be treated with the respect due to his own particular status in life: to be lacking towards him in respect, whether by word or deed, is to wound him in what he holds most dear (ibid.).

One ought then with the greatest care to avoid saying or doing anything whatsoever which may bring disconsolation or humiliation upon our fellow-men?

Yes, one must do this at all cost (ibid.).

Is it ever permitted to act otherwise?

This is only permitted in the case of a superior whose duty it may be to correct one under his charge when the latter merits such correction; with this condition, however, that a superior do not do this in the heat of passion, or in a manner that is indiscreet or uncalled for (LXXII. 2, Obj. 2).

What should be done with regard to those who are lacking in respect?

With such as these charity, and sometimes justice, demands that their boldness be punished. But in this case it is necessary to be on one's guard lest, in punishing them, one exceed the right bounds imposed by the law and so bring injury to oneself (LXXII. 3).


What is understood by detraction?

Detraction, in its strict sense, implies the intention of attacking the reputation of our neighbour, or of taking away wholly or in part the esteem in which he is held by others, whensoever there is no just cause for so doing (LXXIII. 1)

Is this a great sin?

Yes, since it is to take away unjustly from our neighbour a good that is more precious than riches which are taken from him by theft (LXXIII. 2, 3).

In how many ways may one commit the sin of detraction?

In four ways: in imputing to our neighbour things that are false or in exaggerating his defects; or in making known things unknown about him and which prejudice him in the eyes of others; or in attributing to him intentions that are of a doubtful and perhaps of an evil character, whereby all that he does with the best intention becomes vitiated (LXXIII. 1, Obj. 3).

Is there any other sin of detraction that is hurtful to our neighbour?

Yes, in an indirect way, by refusing to acknowledge the good in him, or by keeping silence maliciously concerning his good points, or by lessening their worth (LXXIII. 1, Obj.3).


What is the sin called whispering?

It is that sin which attacks our neighbour by seeking directly through dishonest and insidious speech, to sow discord and create misunderstanding between those who are united by the bonds of friendship (LXXIV. 1).

Is this a grave sin?

This is a most odious sin against our neighbour, and merits perhaps more than other sins that can be committed against our neighbour the just reproval both of God and men (LXXIV. 2).


What is mockery?

Mockery is a sin of the tongue against justice which consists in reviling our neighbour by bringing to his notice his defects and shortcomings, which fact makes him lose confidence in himself as regards his relations with others (LXXV. 1).

Is this a grave sin?

Yes, of a truth, for it implies contempt for the person of our neighbour; and this is a most detestable thing and well merits chastisement (LXXV. 2).

Is irony also a kind of mockery and is it also a grave sin?

Irony may be only slightly culpable if it touch only the small faults or defects of our neighbour, and it may exist without contempt for our neighbour's person. Sometimes irony may be no sin at all, whenever, for instance, one taunts another for the sake of innocent amusement and no risk be run of bringing depression or humiliation upon him who is the object. This manner of amusement is, however, of a delicate nature and should be used with much prudence (LXXV. 1, Obj. 1).

May not irony sometimes be an act of virtue?

Yes, if one employ it as it behoves, by way of correction. A superior may advantageously correct an inferior in this manner, or even those on an equal footing may employ it with advantage and with charity by way of fraternal correction.

In such case what does the use of irony demand?

It demands that it be used with great discretion. For if it is good for those who have too good an opinion of themselves to be brought to acknowledge in a truer measure their proper worth, one has to take care lest, by exceeding the bounds of irony, a person become so depressed as wholly to lose confidence in himself; and without this praiseworthy self-confidence all spontaneity of action would be paralyzed.


What relation is there between the sin called the curse, and the four sins of invective, detraction, whispering, and mockery?

All these sins have in common this, that they are sins of the tongue which attack the good of our neighbour; but whereas the four latter do this by the words of a proposition which formulate evil, or deny the good of our neighbour, the curse attacks our neighbour's good by wishing him evil (LXXVI. 1, 4)

Is the curse then essentially bad?

Yes, whenever one wishes evil to another for evil's sake; and such a wish is, of itself, always a grave sin (LXXVI. 3).

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