Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adultery or Murder: Which Is Worse?

It is often said that Saint John Vianney was easier with penitents sins of the flesh than sins of malice. To be sure, a mortal sin is a mortal sin, but the Saint stands on the shoulders of a long theological tradition. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches the following in his magisterial De Malo:

"Homicidium enim dicitur maius peccatum quam adulterium, non quia magis corrumpat bonum naturale animae, sed quia magis removet bonitatem ipsius actus: plus autem contrariantur caritatis bono." [61040] De malo, q. 1 a. 1 ad 13

(For homicide is said to be a greater sin than adultery, not because it more greatly corrupts the natural good of the soul, but because it more greatly removes the good of the act itself.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.


Joe Torres said...

You call De Malo magisterial, but is that just hyperbole?

Don't get me wrong, I reverence St. Thomas and his work greatly, and I certainly don't doubt the statement quoted for this post, but I didn't think any of St. Thomas's writing was magisterial. Do you mean that the Magisterium has upheld this particular work?

Thanks for your time,

P.S. Thanks to all of you who write for this blog. It's always very exciting for me when Google Reader alerts me to a new post on it. I love reading the blog.

A. T. Wallace said...

No doubt Campion is using the word "magisterial" as an adjective meaning, "having or showing great authority," not meaning, "relating to the official Magisterium of the Catholic Church."

Campion said...


Thanks for the question and I suppose my adjective could be easily misinterpreted, but, nevertheless, I am using the word in its general meaning. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines "magisterial" as follows: "having or showing great authority". I didn't intend it in the strict theological sense of the Church's teaching office but only it its general sense.

Thanks again and a blessed Triduum to you!

Joe Torres said...

I see now. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

Savio said...


Excuse my inability to clearly understand these words of the Angelic Doctor that you have posted, but could you please explain what the Saint means when he says, homicide "more greatly removes the good of the act itself."

Thank you very much,

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