The Theological Virtue of Charity – Part 5 of 5

Father Pegues concludes his exposition of the virtue of charity by discussing the six vices opposed to the peace which flows from charity. These are discord within the soul, wrangling, schism, strife, sedition, and warfare.

Discord occurs when one refuses to wish what another wishes when that other person desires something that would be good for a person and would give honor to God; or it can occur when one is “unduly obstinate and stubborn in disagreeing no matter what the object may be and no matter how right be our intention.”

Wrangling is to contend with another in words.” It is sinful “if one thus contends with the sole desire to contradict; and the more so if one does this in order to hurt a neighbour or contaminate the truth which our neighbour defends by his words; it would also be a sin if, in defending the truth oneself, one’s manner or speech wounds our neighbour’s feelings.”

Schism is the separating oneself intentionally from the unity of the Church, either by refusing to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff as to the head of the Church, or by refusing to have communication with the members.”

Strife occurs “between individuals without any sanction whatsoever of the public authority.” Dueling is related to the sin of strife, but with this difference: “the duel is a thing calculated and is in a sense not fought in the heat of passion; and this circumstance adds to its gravity.”

Sedition is a sin whereby parties of the same people conspire or rise up tumultuously one against the other, or against the established and legitimate authority, whose office it is to guard the well-being of the whole people. . . . Humanly speaking there is nothing more excellent and more to be desired than the maintenance of public order, hence the crime of unjust war, and perhaps sedition even more so, is the greatest crime against the well-being of our fellow-men.”

War is permissible “when there is a just cause, and no injustice is committed in the course of the war.” A just cause is “the hard necessity of making respected even by force of arms the essential rights among men, when these rights have been violated by a foreign nation which refuses to make reparation. Those who fight in a just war, and who commit no act of injustice in the course of the war perform a great act of virtue, since they expose themselves to the greatest of perils for the welfare of their fellow-men or for the good of God.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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