Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.40 a.4
Objection: 1. It would seem unlawful to fight on holy days. For holy days are instituted that we may give our time to the things of God. Hence they are included in the keeping of the Sabbath prescribed Ex 20,8: for "sabbath" is interpreted "rest." But wars are full of unrest. Therefore by no means is it lawful to fight on holy days.
2. Further, certain persons are reproached (Is 58,3) because on fast-days they exacted what was owing to them, were guilty of strife, and of smiting with the fist. Much more, therefore, is it unlawful to fight on holy days.
3. Further, no ill deed should be done to avoid temporal harm. But fighting on a holy day seems in itself to be an ill deed. Therefore no one should fight on a holy day even through the need of avoiding temporal harm.
On the contrary It is written (1 Machab 2:41): The Jews rightly determined . . . saying: "Whosoever shall come up against us to fight on the Sabbath-day, we will fight against him."
I answer that The observance of holy days is no hindrance to those things which are ordained to man's safety, even that of his body. Hence Our Lord argued with the Jews, saying (Jn 7,23): "Are you angry at Me because I have healed the whole man on the Sabbath-day?" Hence physicians may lawfully attend to their patients on holy days. Now there is much more reason for safeguarding the common weal (whereby many are saved from being slain, and innumerable evils both temporal and spiritual prevented), than the bodily safety of an individual. Therefore, for the purpose of safeguarding the common weal of the faithful, it is lawful to carry on a war on holy days, provided there be need for doing so: because it would be to tempt God, if notwithstanding such a need, one were to choose to refrain from fighting.However, as soon as the need ceases, it is no longer lawful to fight on a holy day, for the reasons given:
Reply to Objection: 1. wherefore this suffices for the Replies to the Objections.
We must now consider strife, under which head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether strife is a sin?
(2) Whether it is a daughter of anger?
Objection: 1. It would seem that strife is not always a sin. For strife seems a kind of contention: hence Isidore says (Etym. x) that the word "rixosus [quarrelsome] is derived from the snarling [rictu] of a dog, because the quarrelsome man is ever ready to contradict; he delights in brawling, and provokes contention." Now contention is not always a sin. Neither, therefore, is strife.
2. Further, it is related (Gn 26,21) that the servants of Isaac "digged" another well, "and for that they quarrelled likewise." Now it is not credible that the household of Isaac quarrelled publicly, without being reproved by him, supposing it were a sin. Therefore strife is not a sin.
3. Further, strife seems to be a war between individuals. But war is not always sinful. Therefore strife is not always a sin.
On the contrary Strifes [*The Douay version has 'quarrels'] are reckoned among the works of the flesh (Ga 5,20), and "they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God." Therefore strifes are not only sinful, but they are even mortal sins.
I answer that While contention implies a contradiction of words, strife denotes a certain contradiction of deeds. Wherefore a gloss on Ga 5,20 says that "strifes are when persons strike one another through anger." Hence strife is a kind of private war, because it takes place between private persons, being declared not by public authority, but rather by an inordinate will. Therefore strife is always sinful. In fact it is a mortal sin in the man who attacks another unjustly, for it is not without mortal sin that one inflicts harm on another even if the deed be done by the hands. But in him who defends himself, it may be without sin, or it may sometimes involve a venial sin, or sometimes a mortal sin; and this depends on his intention and on his manner of defending himself. For if his sole intention be to withstand the injury done to him, and he defend himself with due moderation, it is no sin, and one cannot say properly that there is strife on his part. But if, on the other hand, his self-defense be inspired by vengeance and hatred, it is always a sin. It is a venial sin, if a slight movement of hatred or vengeance obtrude itself, or if he does not much exceed moderation in defending himself: but it is a mortal sin if he makes for his assailant with the fixed intention of killing him, or inflicting grievous harm on him.
Reply to Objection: 1. Strife is not just the same as contention: and there are three things in the passage quoted from Isidore, which express the inordinate nature of strife. First, the quarrelsome man is always ready to fight, and this is conveyed by the words, "ever ready to contradict," that is to say, whether the other man says or does well or ill. Secondly, he delights in quarrelling itself, and so the passage proceeds, "and delights in brawling." Thirdly, "he" provokes others to quarrel, wherefore it goes on, "and provokes contention."
2. The sense of the text is not that the servants of Isaac quarrelled, but that the inhabitants of that country quarrelled with them: wherefore these sinned, and not the servants of Isaac, who bore the calumny [*Cf. Gn 26,20].
3. In order for a war to be just it must be declared by authority of the governing power, as stated above (Question , Article ); whereas strife proceeds from a private feeling of anger or hatred. For if the servants of a sovereign or judge, in virtue of their public authority, attack certain men and these defend themselves, it is not the former who are said to be guilty of strife, but those who resist the public authority. Hence it is not the assailants in this case who are guilty of strife and commit sin, but those who defend themselves inordinately.
Objection: 1. It would seem that strife is not a daughter of anger. For it is written (Jc 4,1): "Whence are wars and contentions? Are they not . . . from your concupiscences, which war in your members?" But anger is not in the concupiscible faculty. Therefore strife is a daughter, not of anger, but of concupiscence.
2. Further, it is written (Pr 28,25): "He that boasteth and puffeth up himself, stirreth up quarrels." Now strife is apparently the same as quarrel. Therefore it seems that strife is a daughter of pride or vainglory which makes a man boast and puff himself up.
3. Further, it is written (Pr 18,6): "The lips of a fool intermeddle with strife." Now folly differs from anger, for it is opposed, not to meekness, but to wisdom or prudence. Therefore strife is not a daughter of anger.
4. Further, it is written (Pr 10,12): "Hatred stirreth up strifes." But hatred arises from envy, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17). Therefore strife is not a daughter of anger, but of envy.
5. Further, it is written (Pr 17,19): "He that studieth discords, soweth [Vulg.: 'loveth'] quarrels." But discord is a daughter of vainglory, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore strife is also.
On the contrary Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 17) that "anger gives rise to strife"; and it is written (Pr 15,18 Pr 29,22): "A passionate man stirreth up strifes."
I answer that As stated above (Article ), strife denotes an antagonism extending to deeds, when one man designs to harm another. Now there are two ways in which one man may intend to harm another. In one way it is as though he intended absolutely the other's hurt, which in this case is the outcome of hatred, for the intention of hatred is directed to the hurt of one's enemy either openly or secretly. In another way a man intends to hurt another who knows and withstands his intention. This is what we mean by strife, and belongs properly to anger which is the desire of vengeance: for the angry man is not content to hurt secretly the object of his anger, he even wishes him to feel the hurt and know that what he suffers is in revenge for what he has done, as may be seen from what has been said above about the passion of anger (I-II 46,6, ad 2). Therefore, properly speaking, strife arises from anger.
Reply to Objection: 1. As stated above (I-II 25,1 I-II 25,2), all the irascible passions arise from those of the concupiscible faculty, so that whatever is the immediate outcome of anger, arises also from concupiscence as from its first root.
2. Boasting and puffing up of self which are the result of anger or vainglory, are not the direct but the occasional cause of quarrels or strife, because, when a man resents another being preferred to him, his anger is aroused, and then his anger results in quarrel and strife.
3. Anger, as stated above (I-II 48,3) hinders the judgment of the reason, so that it bears a likeness to folly. Hence they have a common effect, since it is due to a defect in the reason that a man designs to hurt another inordinately.
4. Although strife sometimes arises from hatred, it is not the proper effect thereof, because when one man hates another it is beside his intention to hurt him in a quarrelsome and open manner, since sometimes he seeks to hurt him secretly. When, however, he sees himself prevailing, he endeavors to harm him with strife and quarrel. But to hurt a man in a quarrel is the proper effect of anger, for the reason given above.
5. Strifes give rise to hatred and discord in the hearts of those who are guilty of strife, and so he that "studies," i.e., intends to sow discord among others, causes them to quarrel among themselves. Even so any sin may command the act of another sin, by directing it to its own end. This does not, however, prove that strife is the daughter of vainglory properly and directly.
We must now consider sedition, under which head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is a special sin?
(2) Whether it is a mortal sin?
Objection: 1. It would seem that sedition is not a special sin distinct from other sins. For, according to Isidore (Etym. x), "a seditious man is one who sows dissent among minds, and begets discord." Now, by provoking the commission of a sin, a man sins by no other kind of sin than that which he provoked. Therefore it seems that sedition is not a special sin distinct from discord.
2. Further, sedition denotes a kind of division. Now schism takes its name from scission, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore, seemingly, the sin of sedition is not distinct from that of schism.
3. Further, every special sin that is distinct from other sins, is either a capital vice, or arises from some capital vice. Now sedition is reckoned neither among the capital vices, nor among those vices which arise from them, as appears from Moral. xxxi, 45, where both kinds of vice are enumerated. Therefore sedition is not a special sin, distinct from other sins.
On the contrary Seditions are mentioned as distinct from other sins (2Co 12,20).
I answer that Sedition is a special sin, having something in common with war and strife, and differing somewhat from them. It has something in common with them, in so far as it implies a certain antagonism, and it differs from them in two points. First, because war and strife denote actual aggression on either side, whereas sedition may be said to denote either actual aggression, or the preparation for such aggression. Hence a gloss on 2Co 12,20 says that "seditions are tumults tending to fight," when, to wit, a number of people make preparations with the intention of fighting. Secondly, they differ in that war is, properly speaking, carried on against external foes, being as it were between one people and another, whereas strife is between one individual and another, or between few people on one side and few on the other side, while sedition, in its proper sense, is between mutually dissentient parts of one people, as when one part of the state rises in tumult against another part. Wherefore, since sedition is opposed to a special kind of good, namely the unity and peace of a people, it is a special kind of sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. A seditious man is one who incites others to sedition, and since sedition denotes a kind of discord, it follows that a seditious man is one who creates discord, not of any kind, but between the parts of a multitude. And the sin of sedition is not only in him who sows discord, but also in those who dissent from one another inordinately.
2. Sedition differs from schism in two respects. First, because schism is opposed to the spiritual unity of the multitude, viz. ecclesiastical unity, whereas sedition is contrary to the temporal or secular unity of the multitude, for instance of a city or kingdom. Secondly, schism does not imply any preparation for a material fight as sedition does, but only for a spiritual dissent.
3. Sedition, like schism, is contained under discord, since each is a kind of discord, not between individuals, but between the parts of a multitude.
Objection: 1. It would seem that sedition is not always a mortal sin. For sedition denotes "a tumult tending to fight," according to the gloss quoted above (Article ). But fighting is not always a mortal sin, indeed it is sometimes just and lawful, as stated above (Question , Article ). Much more, therefore, can sedition be without a mortal sin.
2. Further, sedition is a kind of discord, as stated above (Article , ad 3). Now discord can be without mortal sin, and sometimes without any sin at all. Therefore sedition can be also.
3. Further, it is praiseworthy to deliver a multitude from a tyrannical rule. Yet this cannot easily be done without some dissension in the multitude, if one part of the multitude seeks to retain the tyrant, while the rest strive to dethrone him. Therefore there can be sedition without mortal sin.
On the contrary The Apostle forbids seditions together with other things that are mortal sins (2Co 12,20).
I answer that As stated above (Article , ad 2), sedition is contrary to the unity of the multitude, viz. the people of a city or kingdom. Now Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ii, 21) that "wise men understand the word people to designate not any crowd of persons, but the assembly of those who are united together in fellowship recognized by law and for the common good." Wherefore it is evident that the unity to which sedition is opposed is the unity of law and common good: whence it follows manifestly that sedition is opposed to justice and the common good. Therefore by reason of its genus it is a mortal sin, and its gravity will be all the greater according as the common good which it assails surpasses the private good which is assailed by strife.Accordingly the sin of sedition is first and chiefly in its authors, who sin most grievously; and secondly it is in those who are led by them to disturb the common good. Those, however, who defend the common good, and withstand the seditious party, are not themselves seditious, even as neither is a man to be called quarrelsome because he defends himself, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection: 1. It is lawful to fight, provided it be for the common good, as stated above (Question , Article ). But sedition runs counter to the common good of the multitude, so that it is always a mortal sin.
2. Discord from what is not evidently good, may be without sin, but discord from what is evidently good, cannot be without sin: and sedition is discord of this kind, for it is contrary to the unity of the multitude, which is a manifest good.
3. A tyrannical government is not just, because it is directed, not to the common good, but to the private good of the ruler, as the Philosopher states (Polit. iii, 5; Ethic. viii, 10). Consequently there is no sedition in disturbing a government of this kind, unless indeed the tyrant's rule be disturbed so inordinately, that his subjects suffer greater harm from the consequent disturbance than from the tyrant's government. Indeed it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition, since he encourages discord and sedition among his subjects, that he may lord over them more securely; for this is tyranny, being conducive to the private good of the ruler, and to the injury of the multitude.
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?
Objection: 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 (Article ). 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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.'"
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).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.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."
Reply to Objection: 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.
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" (1Co 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 (1Th 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.
3. As stated above (I-II 75,2,3; I-II 80,1), 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).
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.
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.
Objection: 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 (I-II 74,1 I-II 74,2). Now it is written (Mt 18,7): "It must needs be that scandals come." Therefore scandal is not a sin.
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.
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.
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.
I answer that As already said (Article , 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.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.Yet there can be active scandal without sin on the part of the person scandalized, as stated above (Article , ad 4).
Reply to Objection: 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 I 14,13, ad 3; I 23,6, ad 2.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" (1Co 11,19).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.
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.
3. No man stumbles spiritually, without being kept back somewhat from advancing in God's way, and that is at least a venial sin.
Objection: 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.
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.
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.
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.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), 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.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.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 (I-II 1,3; I-II 18,4 I-II 18,6). 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.
Reply to Objection: 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.
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.
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.
Objection: 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 (Question , Article ; Question , Article ). But scandal is contrary to charity, as stated above (Articles ,3). Therefore scandal is a mortal sin.
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.
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 (1Co 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.
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.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), 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.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.
Reply to Objection: 1. And this suffices for the Replies to the Objections.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.40 a.4