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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF SCANDAL (EIGHT ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF SCANDAL (EIGHT ARTICLES)

It remains for us to consider the vices which are opposed to
beneficence, among which some come under the head of injustice, those, to
wit, whereby one harms one's neighbor unjustly. But scandal seems to be
specially opposed to charity. Accordingly we must here consider scandal,
under which head there are eight points of inquiry:

(1) What is scandal?

(2) Whether scandal is a sin?

(3) Whether it is a special sin?

(4) Whether it is a mortal sin?

(5) Whether the perfect can be scandalized?

(6) Whether they can give scandal?

(7) Whether spiritual goods are to be foregone on account of scandal?

(8) Whether temporal things are to be foregone on account of scandal?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether scandal is fittingly defined as being something less rightly said
or done that occasions spiritual downfall?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that scandal is unfittingly defined as "something
less rightly said or done that occasions spiritual downfall." For scandal
is a sin as we shall state further on (A[2]). Now, according to Augustine
(Contra Faust. xxii, 27), a sin is a "word, deed, or desire contrary to
the law of God." Therefore the definition given above is insufficient,
since it omits "thought" or "desire."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, since among virtuous or right acts one is more virtuous
or more right than another, that one alone which has perfect rectitude
would not seem to be a "less" right one. If, therefore, scandal is
something "less" rightly said or done, it follows that every virtuous act
except the best of all, is a scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, an occasion is an accidental cause. But nothing
accidental should enter a definition, because it does not specify the
thing defined. Therefore it is unfitting, in defining scandal, to say
that it is an "occasion."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, whatever a man does may be the occasion of another's
spiritual downfall, because accidental causes are indeterminate.
Consequently, if scandal is something that occasions another's spiritual
downfall, any deed or word can be a scandal: and this seems unreasonable.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, a man occasions his neighbor's spiritual downfall when
he offends or weakens him. Now scandal is condivided with offense and
weakness, for the Apostle says (Rm. 14:21): "It is good not to eat flesh,
and not to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother is offended or
scandalized, or weakened." Therefore the aforesaid definition of scandal
is unfitting.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Jerome in expounding Mt. 15:12, "Dost thou know that
the Pharisees, when they heard this word," etc. says: "When we read
'Whosoever shall scandalize,' the sense is 'Whosoever shall, by deed or
word, occasion another's spiritual downfall.'"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As Jerome observes the Greek {skandalon} may be rendered
offense, downfall, or a stumbling against something. For when a body,
while moving along a path, meets with an obstacle, it may happen to
stumble against it, and be disposed to fall down: such an obstacle is a
{skandalon}.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

In like manner, while going along the spiritual way, a man may be
disposed to a spiritual downfall by another's word or deed, in so far, to
wit, as one man by his injunction, inducement or example, moves another
to sin; and this is scandal properly so called.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

Now nothing by its very nature disposes a man to spiritual downfall,
except that which has some lack of rectitude, since what is perfectly
right, secures man against a fall, instead of conducing to his downfall.
Scandal is, therefore, fittingly defined as "something less rightly done
or said, that occasions another's spiritual downfall."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The thought or desire of evil lies hidden in the heart,
wherefore it does not suggest itself to another man as an obstacle
conducing to his spiritual downfall: hence it cannot come under the head
of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A thing is said to be less right, not because something
else surpasses it in rectitude, but because it has some lack of
rectitude, either through being evil in itself, such as sin, or through
having an appearance of evil. Thus, for instance, if a man were to "sit
at meat in the idol's temple" (1 Cor. 8:10), though this is not sinful in
itself, provided it be done with no evil intention, yet, since it has a
certain appearance of evil, and a semblance of worshipping the idol, it
might occasion another man's spiritual downfall. Hence the Apostle says
(1 Thess. 5:22): "From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves."
Scandal is therefore fittingly described as something done "less
rightly," so as to comprise both whatever is sinful in itself, and all
that has an appearance of evil.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As stated above (FS, Q[75], AA[2],3; FS, Q[80], A[1]),
nothing can be a sufficient cause of a man's spiritual downfall, which is
sin, save his own will. Wherefore another man's words or deeds can only
be an imperfect cause, conducing somewhat to that downfall. For this
reason scandal is said to afford not a cause, but an occasion, which is an imperfect, and not always an accidental cause. Nor is there any reason
why certain definitions should not make mention of things that are
accidental, since what is accidental to one, may be proper to something
else: thus the accidental cause is mentioned in the definition of chance
(Phys. ii, 5).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Another's words or deed may be the cause of another's sin
in two ways, directly and accidentally. Directly, when a man either
intends, by his evil word or deed, to lead another man into sin, or, if
he does not so intend, when his deed is of such a nature as to lead
another into sin: for instance, when a man publicly commits a sin or does
something that has an appearance of sin. In this case he that does such
an act does, properly speaking, afford an occasion of another's spiritual
downfall, wherefore his act is called "active scandal." One man's word or
deed is the accidental cause of another's sin, when he neither intends to
lead him into sin, nor does what is of a nature to lead him into sin, and
yet this other one, through being ill-disposed, is led into sin, for
instance, into envy of another's good, and then he who does this
righteous act, does not, so far as he is concerned, afford an occasion of
the other's downfall, but it is this other one who takes the occasion
according to Rm. 7:8: "Sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in
me all manner of concupiscence." Wherefore this is "passive," without
"active scandal," since he that acts rightly does not, for his own part,
afford the occasion of the other's downfall. Sometimes therefore it
happens that there is active scandal in the one together with passive
scandal in the other, as when one commits a sin being induced thereto by
another; sometimes there is active without passive scandal, for instance
when one, by word or deed, provokes another to sin, and the latter does
not consent; and sometimes there is passive without active scandal, as we
have already said.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: "Weakness" denotes proneness to scandal; while "offense"
signifies resentment against the person who commits a sin, which
resentment may be sometimes without spiritual downfall; and "scandal" is
the stumbling that results in downfall.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether scandal is a sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that scandal is not a sin. For sins do not occur
from necessity, since all sin is voluntary, as stated above (FS, Q[74],
AA[1],2). Now it is written (Mt. 18:7): "It must needs be that scandals
come." Therefore scandal is not a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no sin arises from a sense of dutifulness, because "a
good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit" (Mt. 7:18). But scandal may come
from a sense of dutifulness, for Our Lord said to Peter (Mt. 16:23):
"Thou art a scandal unto Me," in reference to which words Jerome says
that "the Apostle's error was due to his sense of dutifulness, and such
is never inspired by the devil." Therefore scandal is not always a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, scandal denotes a stumbling. But he that stumbles does
not always fall. Therefore scandal, which is a spiritual fall, can be
without sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Scandal is "something less rightly said or done." Now
anything that lacks rectitude is a sin. Therefore scandal is always with
sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As already said (A[1], ad 4), scandal is of two kinds,
passive scandal in the person scandalized, and active scandal in the
person who gives scandal, and so occasions a spiritual downfall.
Accordingly passive scandal is always a sin in the person scandalized;
for he is not scandalized except in so far as he succumbs to a spiritual
downfall, and that is a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

Yet there can be passive scandal, without sin on the part of the person
whose action has occasioned the scandal, as for instance, when a person
is scandalized at another's good deed. In like manner active scandal is
always a sin in the person who gives scandal, since either what he does
is a sin, or if it only have the appearance of sin, it should always be
left undone out of that love for our neighbor which binds each one to be
solicitous for his neighbor's spiritual welfare; so that if he persist in
doing it he acts against charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

Yet there can be active scandal without sin on the part of the person
scandalized, as stated above (A[1], ad 4).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/3

Reply OBJ 1: These words, "It must needs be that scandals come," are to
be understood to convey, not the absolute, but the conditional necessity
of scandal; in which sense it is necessary that whatever God foresees or
foretells must happen, provided it be taken conjointly with such
foreknowledge, as explained in the FP, Q[14], A[13], ad 3; FP, Q[23],
A[6], ad 2.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 2/3

Or we may say that the necessity of scandals occurring is a necessity of
end, because they are useful in order that "they . . . who are reproved
may be made manifest" (1 Cor. 11:19).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 3/3

Or scandals must needs occur, seeing the condition of man who fails to
shield himself from sin. Thus a physician on seeing a man partaking of
unsuitable food might say that such a man must needs injure his health,
which is to be understood on the condition that he does not change his
diet. In like manner it must needs be that scandals come, so long as men
fail to change their evil mode of living.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In that passage scandal denotes any kind of hindrance: for
Peter wished to hinder Our Lord's Passion out of a sense of dutifulness
towards Christ.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: No man stumbles spiritually, without being kept back
somewhat from advancing in God's way, and that is at least a venial sin.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether scandal is a special sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that scandal is not a special sin. For scandal is
"something said or done less rightly." But this applies to every kind of
sin. Therefore every sin is a scandal, and consequently, scandal is not a
special sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, every special kind of sin, or every special kind of
injustice, may be found separately from other kinds, as stated in Ethic.
v, 3,5. But scandal is not to be found separately from other sins.
Therefore it is not a special kind of sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every special sin is constituted by something which
specifies the moral act. But the notion of scandal consists in its being
something done in the presence of others: and the fact of a sin being
committed openly, though it is an aggravating circumstance, does not seem
to constitute the species of a sin. Therefore scandal is not a special
sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A special virtue has a special sin opposed to it. But
scandal is opposed to a special virtue, viz. charity. For it is written
(Rm. 14:15): "If, because of thy meat, thy brother be grieved, thou
walkest not now according to charity." Therefore scandal is a special sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]), scandal is twofold, active and
passive. Passive scandal cannot be a special sin, because through
another's word or deed a man may fall into any kind of sin: and the fact
that a man takes occasion to sin from another's word or deed, does not
constitute a special kind of sin, because it does not imply a special
deformity in opposition to a special virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Body Para. 2/3

On the other hand, active scandal may be understood in two ways,
directly and accidently. The scandal is accidental when it is beside the
agent's intention, as when a man does not intend, by his inordinate deed
or word, to occasion another's spiritual downfall, but merely to satisfy
his own will. In such a case even active scandal is not a special sin,
because a species is not constituted by that which is accidental.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] Body Para. 3/3

Active scandal is direct when a man intends, by his inordinate word or
deed, to draw another into sin, and then it becomes a special kind of sin
on account of the intention of a special kind of end, because moral
actions take their species from their end, as stated above (FS, Q[1],
A[3]; FS, Q[18], AA[4],6). Hence, just as theft and murder are special
kinds of sin, on account of their denoting the intention of doing a
special injury to one's neighbor: so too, scandal is a special kind of
sin, because thereby a man intends a special harm to his neighbor, and it
is directly opposed to fraternal correction, whereby a man intends the
removal of a special kind of harm.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Any sin may be the matter of active scandal, but it may
derive the formal aspect of a special sin from the end intended, as
stated above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Active scandal can be found separate from other sins, as
when a man scandalizes his neighbor by a deed which is not a sin in
itself, but has an appearance of evil.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Scandal does not derive the species of a special sin from
the circumstance in question, but from the intention of the end, as
stated above.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether scandal is a mortal sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that scandal is a mortal sin. For every sin that is
contrary to charity is a mortal sin, as stated above (Q[24], A[12]; Q[35]
, A[3]). But scandal is contrary to charity, as stated above (AA[2],3).
Therefore scandal is a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no sin, save mortal sin, deserves the punishment of
eternal damnation. But scandal deserves the punishment of eternal
damnation, according to Mt. 18:6: "He that shall scandalize one of these
little ones, that believe in Me, it were better for him that a mill-stone
should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the
depth of the sea." For, as Jerome says on this passage, "it is much
better to receive a brief punishment for a fault, than to await
everlasting torments." Therefore scandal is a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every sin committed against God is a mortal sin, because
mortal sin alone turns man away from God. Now scandal is a sin against
God, for the Apostle says (1 Cor. 8:12): "When you wound the weak
conscience of the brethren [*Vulg.: 'When you sin thus against the
brethren and wound their weak conscience'], you sin against Christ."
Therefore scandal is always a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It may be a venial sin to lead a person into venial
sin: and yet this would be to give scandal. Therefore scandal may be a
venial sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), scandal denotes a stumbling
whereby a person is disposed to a spiritual downfall. Consequently
passive scandal may sometimes be a venial sin, when it consists in a
stumbling and nothing more; for instance, when a person is disturbed by a
movement of venial sin occasioned by another's inordinate word or deed:
while sometimes it is a mortal sin, when the stumbling results in a
downfall, for instance, when a person goes so far as to commit a mortal
sin through another's inordinate word or deed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 2/3

Active scandal, if it be accidental, may sometimes be a venial sin; for
instance, when, through a slight indiscretion, a person either commits a
venial sin, or does something that is not a sin in itself, but has some
appearance of evil. On the other hand, it is sometimes a mortal sin,
either because a person commits a mortal sin, or because he has such
contempt for his neighbor's spiritual welfare that he declines, for the
sake of procuring it, to forego doing what he wishes to do. But in the
case of active direct scandal, as when a person intends to lead another
into sin, if he intends to lead him into mortal sin, his own sin will be
mortal; and in like manner if he intends by committing a mortal sin
himself, to lead another into venial sin; whereas if he intends, by
committing a venial sin, to lead another into venial sin, there will be a
venial sin of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 3/3

And this suffices for the Replies to the Objections.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether passive scandal may happen even to the perfect?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that passive scandal may happen even to the
perfect. For Christ was supremely perfect: and yet He said to Peter (Mt.
16:23): "Thou art a scandal to Me." Much more therefore can other perfect
men suffer scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, scandal denotes an obstacle which is put in a person's
spiritual way. Now even perfect men can be hindered in their progress
along the spiritual way, according to 1 Thess. 2:18: "We would have come
to you, I Paul indeed, once and again; but Satan hath hindered us."
Therefore even perfect men can suffer scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, even perfect men are liable to venial sins, according to
1 Jn. 1:8: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." Now
passive scandal is not always a mortal sin, but is sometimes venial, as
stated above (A[4]). Therefore passive scandal may be found in perfect
men.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Jerome, in commenting on Mt. 18:6, "He that shall
scandalize one of these little ones," says: "Observe that it is the
little one that is scandalized, for the elders do not take scandal."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Passive scandal implies that the mind of the person who
takes scandal is unsettled in its adherence to good. Now no man can be
unsettled, who adheres firmly to something immovable. The elders, i.e.
the perfect, adhere to God alone, Whose goodness is unchangeable, for
though they adhere to their superiors, they do so only in so far as these
adhere to Christ, according to 1 Cor. 4:16: "Be ye followers of me, as I
also am of Christ." Wherefore, however much others may appear to them to
conduct themselves ill in word or deed, they themselves do not stray from
their righteousness, according to Ps. 124:1: "They that trust in the Lord
shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in
Jerusalem." Therefore scandal is not found in those who adhere to God
perfectly by love, according to Ps. 118:165: "Much peace have they that
love Thy law, and to them there is no stumbling-block [scandalum]."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As stated above (A[2], ad 2), in this passage, scandal is
used in a broad sense, to denote any kind of hindrance. Hence Our Lord
said to Peter: "Thou art a scandal to Me," because he was endeavoring to
weaken Our Lord's purpose of undergoing His Passion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Perfect men may be hindered in the performance of external
actions. But they are not hindered by the words or deeds of others, from
tending to God in the internal acts of the will, according to Rm.
8:38,39: "Neither death, nor life . . . shall be able to separate us from
the love of God."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Perfect men sometimes fall into venial sins through the
weakness of the flesh; but they are not scandalized (taking scandal in
its true sense), by the words or deeds of others, although there can be
an approach to scandal in them, according to Ps. 72:2: "My feet were
almost moved."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether active scandal can be found in the perfect?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that active scandal can be found in the perfect.
For passion is the effect of action. Now some are scandalized passively
by the words or deeds of the perfect, according to Mt. 15:12: "Dost thou
know that the Pharisees, when they heard this word, were scandalized?"
Therefore active scandal can be found in the perfect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Peter, after receiving the Holy Ghost, was in the state
of the perfect. Yet afterwards he scandalized the gentiles: for it is
written (Gal. 2:14): "When I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the
truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas," i.e. Peter, "before them all: If
thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the gentiles, and not as the
Jews do, how dost thou compel the gentiles to live as do the Jews?"
Therefore active scandal can be in the perfect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, active scandal is sometimes a venial sin. But venial
sins may be in perfect men. Therefore active scandal may be in perfect
men.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Active scandal is more opposed to perfection, than
passive scandal. But passive scandal cannot be in the perfect. Much less,
therefore, can active scandal be in them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Active scandal, properly so called, occurs when a man
says or does a thing which in itself is of a nature to occasion another's
spiritual downfall, and that is only when what he says or does is
inordinate. Now it belongs to the perfect to direct all their actions
according to the rule of reason, as stated in 1 Cor. 14:40: "Let all
things be done decently and according to order"; and they are careful to
do this in those matters chiefly wherein not only would they do wrong,
but would also be to others an occasion of wrongdoing. And if indeed they
fail in this moderation in such words or deeds as come to the knowledge
of others, this has its origin in human weakness wherein they fall short
of perfection. Yet they do not fall short so far as to stray far from the
order of reason, but only a little and in some slight matter: and this is
not so grave that anyone can reasonably take therefrom an occasion for
committing sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Passive scandal is always due to some active scandal; yet
this active scandal is not always in another, but in the very person who
is scandalized, because, to wit, he scandalizes himself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In the opinion of Augustine (Ep. xxviii, xl, lxxxii) and of
Paul also, Peter sinned and was to be blamed, in withdrawing from the
gentiles in order to avoid the scandal of the Jews, because he did this
somewhat imprudently, so that the gentiles who had been converted to the
faith were scandalized. Nevertheless Peter's action was not so grave a
sin as to give others sufficient ground for scandal. Hence they were
guilty of passive scandal, while there was no active scandal in Peter.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The venial sins of the perfect consist chiefly in sudden
movements, which being hidden cannot give scandal. If, however, they
commit any venial sins even in their external words or deeds, these are
so slight as to be insufficient in themselves to give scandal.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether spiritual goods should be foregone on account of scandal?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that spiritual goods ought to be foregone on
account of scandal. For Augustine (Contra Ep. Parmen. iii, 2) teaches
that "punishment for sin should cease, when the peril of schism is
feared." But punishment of sins is a spiritual good, since it is an act
of justice. Therefore a spiritual good is to be foregone on account of
scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the Sacred Doctrine is a most spiritual thing. Yet one
ought to desist therefrom on account of scandal, according to Mt. 7:6:
"Give not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before
swine lest . . . turning upon you, they tear you." Therefore a spiritual
good should be foregone on account of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, since fraternal correction is an act of charity, it is a
spiritual good. Yet sometimes it is omitted out of charity, in order to
avoid giving scandal to others, as Augustine observes (De Civ. Dei i, 9).
Therefore a spiritual good should be foregone on account of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, Jerome [*Hugh de S. Cher., In Matth. xviii; in Luc.
xvii, 2] says that in order to avoid scandal we should forego whatever it
is possible to omit without prejudice to the threefold truth, i.e. "the
truth of life, of justice and of doctrine." Now the observance of the
counsels, and the bestowal of alms may often be omitted without
prejudice to the aforesaid threefold truth, else whoever omitted them
would always be guilty of sin, and yet such things are the greatest of
spiritual works. Therefore spiritual works should be omitted on account
of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, the avoidance of any sin is a spiritual good, since any
sin brings spiritual harm to the sinner. Now it seems that one ought
sometimes to commit a venial sin in order to avoid scandalizing one's
neighbor, for instance, when by sinning venially, one would prevent
someone else from committing a mortal sin: because one is bound to hinder
the damnation of one's neighbor as much as one can without prejudice to
one's own salvation, which is not precluded by a venial sin. Therefore
one ought to forego a spiritual good in order to avoid scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. Super Ezech. vii): "If people are
scandalized at the truth, it is better to allow the birth of scandal,
than to abandon the truth." Now spiritual goods belong, above all others,
to the truth. Therefore spiritual goods are not to be foregone on account
of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Whereas scandal is twofold, active and passive, the
present question does not apply to active scandal, for since active
scandal is "something said or done less rightly," nothing ought to be
done that implies active scandal. The question does, however, apply to
passive scandal, and accordingly we have to see what ought to be foregone
in order to avoid scandal. Now a distinction must be made in spiritual
goods. For some of them are necessary for salvation, and cannot be
foregone without mortal sin: and it is evident that no man ought to
commit a mortal sin, in order to prevent another from sinning, because
according to the order of charity, a man ought to love his own spiritual
welfare more than another's. Therefore one ought not to forego that which
is necessary for salvation, in order to avoid giving scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] Body Para. 2/2

Again a distinction seems necessary among spiritual things which are not
necessary for salvation: because the scandal which arises from such
things sometimes proceeds from malice, for instance when a man wishes to
hinder those spiritual goods by stirring up scandal. This is the "scandal
of the Pharisees," who were scandalized at Our Lord's teaching: and Our
Lord teaches (Mt. 15:14) that we ought to treat such like scandal with
contempt. Sometimes scandal proceeds from weakness or ignorance, and such
is the "scandal of little ones." In order to avoid this kind of scandal,
spiritual goods ought to be either concealed, or sometimes even deferred
(if this can be done without incurring immediate danger), until the
matter being explained the scandal cease. If, however, the scandal
continue after the matter has been explained, it would seem to be due to
malice, and then it would no longer be right to forego that spiritual
good in order to avoid such like scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In the infliction of punishment it is not the punishment
itself that is the end in view, but its medicinal properties in checking
sin; wherefore punishment partakes of the nature of justice, in so far as
it checks sin. But if it is evident that the infliction of punishment
will result in more numerous and more grievous sins being committed, the
infliction of punishment will no longer be a part of justice. It is in
this sense that Augustine is speaking, when, to wit, the excommunication
of a few threatens to bring about the danger of a schism, for in that
case it would be contrary to the truth of justice to pronounce
excommunication.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1
Reply OBJ 2: With regard to a man's doctrine two points must be
considered, namely, the truth which is taught, and the act of teaching.
The first of these is necessary for salvation, to wit, that he whose duty
it is to teach should no' teach what is contrary to the truth, and that
he should teach the truth according to the requirements of times and
persons: wherefore on no account ought he to suppress the truth and teach
error in order to avoid any scandal that might ensue. But the act itself
of teaching is one of the spiritual almsdeeds, as stated above (Q[32],
A[2]), and so the same is to be said of it as of the other works of
mercy, of which we shall speak further on (ad 4).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As stated above (Q[33], A[1]), fraternal correction aims at
the correction of a brother, wherefore it is to be reckoned among
spiritual goods in so far as this end can be obtained, which is not the
case if the brother be scandalized through being corrected. And so, if
the correction be omitted in order to avoid scandal, no spiritual good is
foregone.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The truth of life, of doctrine, and of justice comprises
not only whatever is necessary for salvation, but also whatever is a
means of obtaining salvation more perfectly, according to 1 Cor. 12:31:
"Be zealous for the better gifts." Wherefore neither the counsels nor
even the works of mercy are to be altogether omitted in order to avoid
scandal; but sometimes they should be concealed or deferred, on account
of the scandal of the little ones, as stated above. Sometimes, however,
the observance of the counsels and the fulfilment of the works of mercy
are necessary for salvation. This may be seen in the case of those who
have vowed to keep the counsels, and of those whose duty it is to relieve
the wants of others, either in temporal matters (as by feeding the
hungry), or in spiritual matters (as by instructing the ignorant),
whether such duties arise from their being enjoined as in the case of
prelates, or from the need on the part of the person in want; and then
the same applies to these things as to others that are necessary for
salvation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[7] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: Some have said that one ought to commit a venial sin in
order to avoid scandal. But this implies a contradiction, since if it
ought to be done, it is no longer evil or sinful, for a sin cannot be a
matter of choice. It may happen however that, on account of some
circumstance, something is not a venial sin, though it would be were it
not for that circumstance: thus an idle word is a venial sin, when it is
uttered uselessly; yet if it be uttered for a reasonable cause, it is
neither idle nor sinful. And though venial sin does not deprive a man of
grace which is his means of salvation, yet, in so far as it disposes him
to mortal sin, it tends to the loss of salvation.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether temporal goods should be foregone on account of scandal?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that temporal goods should be foregone on account
of scandal. For we ought to love our neighbor's spiritual welfare which
is hindered by scandal, more than any temporal goods whatever. But we
forego what we love less for the sake of what we love more. Therefore we
should forego temporal goods in order to avoid scandalizing our neighbor.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, according to Jerome's rule [*Cf. A[7], OBJ[4]], whatever
can be foregone without prejudice to the threefold truth, should be
omitted in order to avoid scandal. Now temporal goods can be foregone
without prejudice to the threefold truth. Therefore they should be
foregone in order to avoid scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, no temporal good is more necessary than food. But we
ought to forego taking food on account of scandal, according to Rm.
14:15: "Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died." Much more
therefore should all other temporal goods be foregone on account of
scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, the most fitting way of safeguarding and recovering
temporal goods is the court of justice. But it is unlawful to have
recourse to justice, especially if scandal ensues: for it is written (Mt.
5:40): "If a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy
coat, let go thy cloak also unto him"; and (1 Cor. 6:7): "Already indeed
there is plainly a fault among you, that you have lawsuits one with
another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not rather suffer
yourselves to be defrauded?" Therefore it seems that we ought to forego
temporal goods on account of scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, we ought, seemingly, to forego least of all those
temporal goods which are connected with spiritual goods: and yet we ought
to forego them on account of scandal. For the Apostle while sowing
spiritual things did not accept a temporal stipend lest he "should give
any hindrance to the Gospel of Christ" as we read 1 Cor. 9:12. For a like
reason the Church does not demand tithes in certain countries, in order
to avoid scandal. Much more, therefore, ought we to forego other temporal
goods in order to avoid scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Blessed Thomas of Canterbury demanded the restitution
of Church property, notwithstanding that the king took scandal from his
doing so.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, A distinction must be made in temporal goods: for either
they are ours, or they are consigned to us to take care of them for
someone else; thus the goods of the Church are consigned to prelates, and
the goods of the community are entrusted to all such persons as have
authority over the common weal. In this latter case the care of such
things (as of things held in deposit) devolves of necessity on those
persons to whom they are entrusted, wherefore, even as other things that
are necessary for salvation, they are not to be foregone on account of
scandal. On the other hand, as regards those temporalities of which we
have the dominion, sometimes, on account of scandal, we are bound to
forego them, and sometimes we are not so bound, whether we forego them by
giving them up, if we have them in our possession, or by omitting to
claim them, if they are in the possession of others. For if the scandal
arise therefrom through the ignorance or weakness of others (in which
case, as stated above, A[7], it is scandal of the little ones) we must
either forego such temporalities altogether, or the scandal must be
abated by some other means, namely, by some kind of admonition. Hence
Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 20): "Thou shouldst give so as
to injure neither thyself nor another, as much as thou canst lend, and if
thou refusest what is asked, thou must yet be just to him, indeed thou
wilt give him something better than he asks, if thou reprove him that
asks unjustly." Sometimes, however, scandal arises from malice. This is
scandal of the Pharisees: and we ought not to forego temporal goods for
the sake of those who stir up scandals of this kind, for this would both
be harmful to the common good, since it would give wicked men an
opportunity of plunder, and would be injurious to the plunderers
themselves, who would remain in sin as long as they were in possession of
another's property. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 13): "Sometimes we
ought to suffer those who rob us of our temporalities, while sometimes we
should resist them, as far as equity allows, in the hope not only that we
may safeguard our property, but also lest those who take what is not
theirs may lose themselves."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] Body Para. 2/2

This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: If it were permissible for wicked men to rob other people
of their property, this would tend to the detriment of the truth of life
and justice. Therefore we are not always bound to forego our temporal
goods in order to avoid scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The Apostle had no intention of counselling total
abstinence from food on account of scandal, because our welfare requires
that we should take food: but he intended to counsel abstinence from a
particular kind of food, in order to avoid scandal, according to 1 Cor.
8:13: "I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: According to Augustine (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 19) this
precept of Our Lord is to be understood of the preparedness of the mind,
namely, that man should be prepared, if it be expedient, to suffer being
harmed or defrauded, rather than go to law. But sometimes it is not
expedient, as stated above (ad 2). The same applies to the saying of the
Apostle.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[43] A[8] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: The scandal which the Apostle avoided, arose from an error
of the gentiles who were not used to this payment. Hence it behooved him
to forego it for the time being, so that they might be taught first of
all that such a payment was a duty. For a like reason the Church refrains
from demanding tithes in those countries where it is not customary to pay
them.




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