Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.62 a.7

Whether restitution is binding on those who have not taken?



Objection: 1. It would seem that restitution is not binding on those who have not taken. For restitution is a punishment of the taker. Now none should be punished except the one who sinned. Therefore none are bound to restitution save the one who has taken.
2. Further, justice does not bind one to increase another's property. Now if restitution were binding not only on the man who takes a thing but also on all those who cooperate with him in any way whatever, the person from whom the thing was taken would be the gainer, both because he would receive restitution many times over, and because sometimes a person cooperates towards a thing being taken away from someone, without its being taken away in effect. Therefore the others are not bound to restitution.
3. Further, no man is bound to expose himself to danger, in order to safeguard another's property. Now sometimes a man would expose himself to the danger of death, were he to betray a thief, or withstand him. Therefore one is not bound to restitution, through not betraying or withstanding a thief.

On the contrary It is written (Rm 1,32): "They who do such things are worthy of death, and not only they that do them, but also they that consent to them that do them." Therefore in like manner they that consent are bound to restitution.
I answer that As stated above (Article [6]), a person is bound to restitution not only on account of someone else's property which he has taken, but also on account of the injurious taking. Hence whoever is cause of an unjust taking is bound to restitution. This happens in two ways, directly and indirectly. Directly, when a man induces another to take, and this in three ways. First, on the part of the taking, by moving a man to take, either by express command, counsel, or consent, or by praising a man for his courage in thieving. Secondly, on the part of the taker, by giving him shelter or any other kind of assistance. Thirdly, on the part of the thing taken, by taking part in the theft or robbery, as a fellow evil-doer. Indirectly, when a man does not prevent another from evil-doing (provided he be able and bound to prevent him), either by omitting the command or counsel which would hinder him from thieving or robbing, or by omitting to do what would have hindered him, or by sheltering him after the deed. All these are expressed as follows:"By command, by counsel, by consent, by flattery, by receiving, by participation, by silence, by not preventing, by not denouncing."It must be observed, however, that in five of these cases the cooperator is always bound to restitution. First, in the case of command: because he that commands is the chief mover, wherefore he is bound to restitution principally. Secondly, in the case of consent; namely of one without whose consent the robbery cannot take place. Thirdly, in the case of receiving; when, to wit, a man is a receiver of thieves, and gives them assistance. Fourthly, in the case of participation; when a man takes part in the theft and in the booty. Fifthly, he who does not prevent the theft, whereas he is bound to do so; for instance, persons in authority who are bound to safeguard justice on earth, are bound to restitution, if by their neglect thieves prosper, because their salary is given to them in payment of their preserving justice here below.In the other cases mentioned above, a man is not always bound to restitution: because counsel and flattery are not always the efficacious cause of robbery. Hence the counsellor or flatterer is bound to restitution, only when it may be judged with probability that the unjust taking resulted from such causes.

Reply to Objection: 1. Not only is he bound to restitution who commits the sin, but also he who is in any way cause of the sin, whether by counselling, or by commanding, or in any other way whatever.
2. He is bound chiefly to restitution, who is the principal in the deed; first of all, the "commander"; secondly, the "executor," and in due sequence, the others: yet so that, if one of them make restitution, another is not bound to make restitution to the same person. Yet those who are principals in the deed, and who took possession of the thing, are bound to compensate those who have already made restitution. When a man commands an unjust taking that does not follow, no restitution has to be made, since its end is chiefly to restore the property of the person who has been unjustly injured.
3. He that fails to denounce a thief or does not withstand or reprehend him is not always bound to restitution, but only when he is obliged, in virtue of his office, to do so: as in the case of earthly princes who do not incur any great danger thereby; for they are invested with public authority, in order that they may maintain justice.



Whether a man is bound to immediate restitution, or may he put it off?



Objection: 1. It would seem that a man is not bound to immediate restitution, and can lawfully delay to restore. For affirmative precepts do not bind for always. Now the necessity of making restitution is binding through an affirmative precept. Therefore a man is not bound to immediate restitution.
2. Further, no man is bound to do what is impossible. But it is sometimes impossible to make restitution at once. Therefore no man is bound to immediate restitution.
3. Further, restitution is an act of virtue, viz. of justice. Now time is one of the circumstances requisite for virtuous acts. Since then the other circumstances are not determinate for acts of virtue, but are determinable according to the dictate of prudence, it seems that neither in restitution is there any fixed time, so that a man be bound to restore at once.

On the contrary All matters of restitution seem to come under one head. Now a man who hires the services of a wage-earner, must not delay compensation, as appears from Lv 19,13, "The wages of him that hath been hired by thee shall not abide with thee until the morning." Therefore neither is it lawful, in other cases of restitution, to delay, and restitution should be made at once.
I answer that Even as it is a sin against justice to take another's property, so also is it to withhold it, since, to withhold the property of another against the owner's will, is to deprive him of the use of what belongs to him, and to do him an injury. Now it is clear that it is wrong to remain in sin even for a short time; and one is bound to renounce one's sin at once, according to Si 21,2, "Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent." Consequently one is bound to immediate restitution, if possible, or to ask for a respite from the person who is empowered to grant the use of the thing.

Reply to Objection: 1. Although the precept about the making of restitution is affirmative in form, it implies a negative precept forbidding us to withhold another's property.
2. When one is unable to restore at once, this very inability excuses one from immediate restitution: even as a person is altogether excused from making restitution if he is altogether unable to make it. He is, however, bound either himself or through another to ask the person to whom he owes compensation to grant him a remission or a respite.
3. Whenever the omission of a circumstance is contrary to virtue that circumstance must be looked upon as determinate, and we are bound to observe it: and since delay of restitution involves a sin of unjust detention which is opposed to just detention, it stands to reason that the time is determinate in the point of restitution being immediate.


VICES OPPOSED TO DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE (Question [63])


Q63: OF RESPECT OF PERSONS (FOUR ARTICLES)




We must now consider the vices opposed to the aforesaid parts of justice. First we shall consider respect of persons which is opposed to distributive justice; secondly we shall consider the vices opposed to commutative justice.

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether respect of persons is a sin?

(2) Whether it takes place in the dispensation of spiritualities?

(3) Whether it takes place in showing honor?

(4) Whether it takes place in judicial sentences?



Whether respect of persons is a sin?



Objection: 1. It would seem that respect of persons is not a sin. For the word "person" includes a reference to personal dignity [*Cf. I 29,3, ad 2]. Now it belongs to distributive justice to consider personal dignity. Therefore respect of persons is not a sin.
2. Further, in human affairs persons are of more importance than things, since things are for the benefit of persons and not conversely. But respect of things is not a sin. Much less, therefore, is respect of persons.
3. Further, no injustice or sin can be in God. Yet God seems to respect persons, since of two men circumstanced alike He sometimes upraises one by grace, and leaves the other in sin, according to Mt 24,40: "Two shall be in a bed [Vulg.: 'field' [*'Bed' is the reading of Lc 17,34]], one shall be taken, and one shall be left." Therefore respect of persons is not a sin.

On the contrary Nothing but sin is forbidden in the Divine law. Now respect of persons is forbidden, Dt 1,17: "Neither shall you respect any man's person." Therefore respect of persons is a sin.
I answer that Respect of persons is opposed to distributive justice. For the equality of distributive justice consists in allotting various things to various persons in proportion to their personal dignity. Accordingly, if one considers that personal property by reason of which the thing allotted to a particular person is due to him, this is respect not of the person but of the cause. Hence a gloss on Ep 6,9, "There is no respect of persons with God [Vulg.: 'Him']," says that "a just judge regards causes, not persons." For instance if you promote a man to a professorship on account of his having sufficient knowledge, you consider the due cause, not the person; but if, in conferring something on someone, you consider in him not the fact that what you give him is proportionate or due to him, but the fact that he is this particular man (e.g. Peter or Martin), then there is respect of the person, since you give him something not for some cause that renders him worthy of it, but simply because he is this person. And any circumstance that does not amount to a reason why this man be worthy of this gift, is to be referred to his person: for instance if a man promote someone to a prelacy or a professorship, because he is rich or because he is a relative of his, it is respect of persons. It may happen, however, that a circumstance of person makes a man worthy as regards one thing, but not as regards another: thus consanguinity makes a man worthy to be appointed heir to an estate, but not to be chosen for a position of ecclesiastical authority: wherefore consideration of the same circumstance of person will amount to respect of persons in one matter and not in another. It follows, accordingly, that respect of persons is opposed to distributive justice in that it fails to observe due proportion. Now nothing but sin is opposed to virtue: and therefore respect of persons is a sin.

Reply to Objection: 1. In distributive justice we consider those circumstances of a person which result in dignity or right, whereas in respect of persons we consider circumstances that do not so result.
2. Persons are rendered proportionate to and worthy of things which are distributed among them, by reason of certain things pertaining to circumstances of person, wherefore such conditions ought to be considered as the proper cause. But when we consider the persons themselves, that which is not a cause is considered as though it were; and so it is clear that although persons are more worthy, absolutely speaking, yet they are not more worthy in this regard.
3. There is a twofold giving. one belongs to justice, and occurs when we give a man his due: in such like givings respect of persons takes place. The other giving belongs to liberality, when one gives gratis that which is not a man's due: such is the bestowal of the gifts of grace, whereby sinners are chosen by God. In such a giving there is no place for respect of persons, because anyone may, without injustice, give of his own as much as he will, and to whom he will, according to Mt 20,14-15, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will? . . . Take what is thine, and go thy way."



Whether respect of persons takes place in the dispensation of spiritual goods?



Objection: 1. It would seem that respect of persons does not take place in the dispensation of spiritual goods. For it would seem to savor of respect of persons if a man confers ecclesiastical dignity or benefice on account of consanguinity, since consanguinity is not a cause whereby a man is rendered worthy of an ecclesiastical benefice. Yet this apparently is not a sin, for ecclesiastical prelates are wont to do so. Therefore the sin of respect of persons does not take place in the conferring of spiritual goods.
2. Further, to give preference to a rich man rather than to a poor man seems to pertain to respect of persons, according to Jc 2,2-3. Nevertheless dispensations to marry within forbidden degrees are more readily granted to the rich and powerful than to others. Therefore the sin of respect of persons seems not to take place in the dispensation of spiritual goods.
3. Further, according to jurists [*Cap. Cum dilectus.] it suffices to choose a good man, and it is not requisite that one choose the better man. But it would seem to savor of respect of persons to choose one who is less good for a higher position. Therefore respect of persons is not a sin in spiritual matters.
4. Further, according to the law of the Church (Cap. Cum dilectus.) the person to be chosen should be "a member of the flock." Now this would seem to imply respect of persons, since sometimes more competent persons would be found elsewhere. Therefore respect of persons is not a sin in spiritual matters.

On the contrary It is written (Jc 2,1): "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . with respect of persons." On these words a gloss of Augustine says: "Who is there that would tolerate the promotion of a rich man to a position of honor in the Church, to the exclusion of a poor man more learned and holier?" [*Augustine, Ep. ad Hieron. clxvii.]
I answer that As stated above (Article [1]), respect of persons is a sin, in so far as it is contrary to justice. Now the graver the matter in which justice is transgressed, the more grievous the sin: so that, spiritual things being of greater import than temporal, respect of persons is a more grievous sin in dispensing spiritualities than in dispensing temporalities. And since it is respect of persons when something is allotted to a person out of proportion to his deserts, it must be observed that a person's worthiness may be considered in two ways. First, simply and absolutely: and in this way the man who abounds the more in the spiritual gifts of grace is the more worthy. Secondly, in relation to the common good; for it happens at times that the less holy and less learned man may conduce more to the common good, on account of worldly authority or activity, or something of the kind. And since the dispensation of spiritualities is directed chiefly to the common good, according to 1Co 12,7, "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit," it follows that in the dispensation of spiritualities the simply less good are sometimes preferred to the better, without respect of persons, just as God sometimes bestows gratuitous graces on the less worthy.

Reply to Objection: 1. We must make a distinction with regard to a prelate's kinsfolk: for sometimes they are less worthy, both absolutely speaking, and in relation to the common good: and then if they are preferred to the more worthy, there is a sin of respect of persons in the dispensation of spiritual goods, whereof the ecclesiastical superior is not the owner, with power to give them away as he will, but the dispenser, according to 1Co 4,1, "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God." Sometimes however the prelate's kinsfolk are as worthy as others, and then without respect of persons he can lawfully give preference to his kindred since there is at least this advantage, that he can trust the more in their being of one mind with him in conducting the business of the Church. Yet he would have to forego so doing for fear of scandal, if anyone might take an example from him and give the goods of the Church to their kindred without regard to their deserts.
2. Dispensations for contracting marriage came into use for the purpose of strengthening treaties of peace: and this is more necessary for the common good in relation to persons of standing, so that there is no respect of persons in granting dispensations more readily to such persons.
3. In order that an election be not rebutted in a court of law, it suffices to elect a good man, nor is it necessary to elect the better man, because otherwise every election might have a flaw. But as regards the conscience of an elector, it is necessary to elect one who is better, either absolutely speaking, or in relation to the common good. For if it is possible to have one who is more competent for a post, and yet another be preferred, it is necessary to have some cause for this. If this cause have anything to do with the matter in point, he who is elected will, in this respect, be more competent; and if that which is taken for cause have nothing to do with the matter, it will clearly be respect of persons.
4. The man who is taken from among the members of a particular Church, is generally speaking more useful as regards the common good, since he loves more the Church wherein he was brought up. For this reason it was commanded (Dt 17,15): "Thou mayest not make a man of another nation king, who is not thy brother."



Whether respect of persons takes place in showing honor and respect?



Objection: 1. It would seem that respect of persons does not take place in showing honor and respect. For honor is apparently nothing else than "reverence shown to a person in recognition of his virtue," as the Philosopher states (Ethic. i, 5). Now prelates and princes should be honored although they be wicked, even as our parents, of whom it is written (Ex 20,12): "Honor thy father and thy mother." Again masters, though they be wicked, should be honored by their servants, according to 1Tm 6,1: "Whoever are servants under the yoke, let them count their masters worthy of all honor." Therefore it seems that it is not a sin to respect persons in showing honor.
2. Further, it is commanded (Lv 19,32): "Rise up before the hoary head, and, honor the person of the aged man." But this seems to savor of respect of persons, since sometimes old men are not virtuous; according to Da 13,5: "Iniquity came out from the ancients of the people [*Vulg.: 'Iniquity came out of Babylon from the ancient judges, that seemed to govern the people.']." Therefore it is not a sin to respect persons in showing honor.
3. Further, on the words of Jc 2,1, "Have not the faith . . . with respect of persons," a gloss of Augustine [*Ep. ad Hieron. clxvii.] says: "If the saying of James, 'If there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring,' etc., refer to our daily meetings, who sins not here, if however he sin at all?" Yet it is respect of persons to honor the rich for their riches, for Gregory says in a homily (xxviii in Evang.): "Our pride is blunted, since in men we honor, not the nature wherein they are made to God's image, but wealth," so that, wealth not being a due cause of honor, this will savor of respect of persons. Therefore it is not a sin to respect persons in showing honor.

On the contrary A gloss on Jc 2,1, says: "Whoever honors the rich for their riches, sins," and in like manner, if a man be honored for other causes that do not render him worthy of honor. Now this savors of respect of persons. Therefore it is a sin to respect persons in showing honor.
I answer that To honor a person is to recognize him as having virtue, wherefore virtue alone is the due cause of a person being honored. Now it is to be observed that a person may be honored not only for his own virtue, but also for another's: thus princes and prelates, although they be wicked, are honored as standing in God's place, and as representing the community over which they are placed, according to Pr 26,8, "As he that casteth a stone into the heap of Mercury, so is he that giveth honor to a fool." For, since the gentiles ascribed the keeping of accounts to Mercury, "the heap of Mercury" signifies the casting up of an account, when a merchant sometimes substitutes a pebble [*'Lapillus' or 'calculus' whence the English word 'calculate'] for one hundred marks. So too, is a fool honored if he stand in God's place or represent the whole community: and in the same way parents and masters should be honored, on account of their having a share of the dignity of God Who is the Father and Lord of all. The aged should be honored, because old age is a sign of virtue, though this sign fail at times: wherefore, according to Sg 4,8-9, "venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years; but the understanding of a man is gray hairs, and a spotless life is old age." The rich ought to be honored by reason of their occupying a higher position in the community: but if they be honored merely for their wealth, it will be the sin of respect of persons.

Reply to Objection: 1. Hence the Replies to the Objections are clear.



Whether the sin of respect of persons takes place in judicial sentences?



Objection: 1. It would seem that the sin of respect of persons does not take place in judicial sentences. For respect of persons is opposed to distributive justice, as stated above (Article [1]): whereas judicial sentences seem to pertain chiefly to commutative justice. Therefore respect of persons does not take place in judicial sentences.
2. Further, penalties are inflicted according to a sentence. Now it is not a sin to respect persons in pronouncing penalties, since a heavier punishment is inflicted on one who injures the person of a prince than on one who injures the person of others. Therefore respect of persons does not take place in judicial sentences.
3. Further, it is written (Si 4,10): "In judging be merciful to the fatherless." But this seems to imply respect of the person of the needy. Therefore in judicial sentences respect of persons is not a sin.

On the contrary It is written (Pr 18,5): "It is not good to accept the person in judgment [*Vulg.: 'It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to decline from the truth of judgment.']."
I answer that As stated above (Question [60], Article [1]), judgment is an act of justice, in as much as the judge restores to the equality of justice, those things which may cause an opposite inequality. Now respect of persons involves a certain inequality, in so far as something is allotted to a person out of that proportion to him in which the equality of justice consists. Wherefore it is evident that judgment is rendered corrupt by respect of persons.

Reply to Objection: 1. A judgment may be looked at in two ways. First, in view of the thing judged, and in this way judgment is common to commutative and distributive justice: because it may be decided by judgment how some common good is to be distributed among many, and how one person is to restore to another what he has taken from him. Secondly, it may be considered in view of the form of judgment, in as much as, even in commutative justice, the judge takes from one and gives to another, and this belongs to distributive justice. In this way respect of persons may take place in any judgment.
2. When a person is more severely punished on account of a crime committed against a greater person, there is no respect of persons, because the very difference of persons causes, in that case, a diversity of things, as stated above (Question [58], Article [10], ad 3; Question [61], Article [2], ad 3).
3. In pronouncing judgment one ought to succor the needy as far as possible, yet without prejudice to justice: else the saying of Ex 23,3 would apply: "Neither shalt thou favor a poor man in judgment."


VICES OPPOSED TO COMMUTATIVE JUSTICE (Questions [64]-81)

(A) BY DEEDS (Questions [64]-66)


Q64: OF MURDER (EIGHT ARTICLES)




In due sequence we must consider the vices opposed to commutative justice. We must consider (1) those sins that are committed in relation to involuntary commutations; (2) those that are committed with regard to voluntary commutations. Sins are committed in relation to involuntary commutations by doing an injury to one's neighbor against his will: and this can be done in two ways, namely by deed or by word. By deed when one's neighbor is injured either in his own person, or in a person connected with him, or in his possessions.

We must therefore consider these points in due order, and in the first place we shall consider murder whereby a man inflicts the greatest injury on his neighbor. Under this head there are eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether it is a sin to kill dumb animals or even plants?(2) Whether it is lawful to kill a sinner?

(3) Whether this is lawful to a private individual, or to a public person only?

(4) Whether this is lawful to a cleric?

(5) Whether it is lawful to kill oneself?

(6) Whether it is lawful to kill a just man?

(7) Whether it is lawful to kill a man in self-defense?

(8) Whether accidental homicide is a mortal sin?



Whether it is unlawful to kill any living thing?



Objection: 1. It would seem unlawful to kill any living thing. For the Apostle says (Rm 13,2): "They that resist the ordinance of God purchase to themselves damnation [*Vulg.: 'He that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, purchase themselves damnation.']." Now Divine providence has ordained that all living things should be preserved, according to Ps 146,8-9, "Who maketh grass to grow on the mountains . . . Who giveth to beasts their food." Therefore it seems unlawful to take the life of any living thing.
2. Further, murder is a sin because it deprives a man of life. Now life is common to all animals and plants. Hence for the same reason it is apparently a sin to slay dumb animals and plants.
3. Further, in the Divine law a special punishment is not appointed save for a sin. Now a special punishment had to be inflicted, according to the Divine law, on one who killed another man's ox or sheep (Ex 22,1). Therefore the slaying of dumb animals is a sin.

On the contrary Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 20): "When we hear it said, 'Thou shalt not kill,' we do not take it as referring to trees, for they have no sense, nor to irrational animals, because they have no fellowship with us. Hence it follows that the words, 'Thou shalt not kill' refer to the killing of a man."
I answer that There is no sin in using a thing for the purpose for which it is. Now the order of things is such that the imperfect are for the perfect, even as in the process of generation nature proceeds from imperfection to perfection. Hence it is that just as in the generation of a man there is first a living thing, then an animal, and lastly a man, so too things, like the plants, which merely have life, are all alike for animals, and all animals are for man. Wherefore it is not unlawful if man use plants for the good of animals, and animals for the good of man, as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 3).Now the most necessary use would seem to consist in the fact that animals use plants, and men use animals, for food, and this cannot be done unless these be deprived of life: wherefore it is lawful both to take life from plants for the use of animals, and from animals for the use of men. In fact this is in keeping with the commandment of God Himself: for it is written (Gn 1,29-30): "Behold I have given you every herb . . . and all trees . . . to be your meat, and to all beasts of the earth": and again (Gn 9,3): "Everything that moveth and liveth shall be meat to you."

Reply to Objection: 1. According to the Divine ordinance the life of animals and plants is preserved not for themselves but for man. Hence, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 20), "by a most just ordinance of the Creator, both their life and their death are subject to our use."
2. Dumb animals and plants are devoid of the life of reason whereby to set themselves in motion; they are moved, as it were by another, by a kind of natural impulse, a sign of which is that they are naturally enslaved and accommodated to the uses of others.
3. He that kills another's ox, sins, not through killing the ox, but through injuring another man in his property. Wherefore this is not a species of the sin of murder but of the sin of theft or robbery.



Whether it is lawful to kill sinners?



Objection: 1. It would seem unlawful to kill men who have sinned. For our Lord in the parable (Mt 13) forbade the uprooting of the cockle which denotes wicked men according to a gloss. Now whatever is forbidden by God is a sin. Therefore it is a sin to kill a sinner.
2. Further, human justice is conformed to Divine justice. Now according to Divine justice sinners are kept back for repentance, according to Ez 33,11, "I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." Therefore it seems altogether unjust to kill sinners.
3. Further, it is not lawful, for any good end whatever, to do that which is evil in itself, according to Augustine (Contra Mendac. vii) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6). Now to kill a man is evil in itself, since we are bound to have charity towards all men, and "we wish our friends to live and to exist," according to Ethic. ix, 4. Therefore it is nowise lawful to kill a man who has sinned.

On the contrary It is written (Ex 22,18): "Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live"; and (Ps 100,8): "In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land."
I answer that As stated above (Article [1]), it is lawful to kill dumb animals, in so far as they are naturally directed to man's use, as the imperfect is directed to the perfect. Now every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part is naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we observe that if the health of the whole body demands the excision of a member, through its being decayed or infectious to the other members, it will be both praiseworthy and advantageous to have it cut away. Now every individual person is compared to the whole community, as part to whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since "a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump" (1Co 5,6).

Reply to Objection: 1. Our Lord commanded them to forbear from uprooting the cockle in order to spare the wheat, i.e. the good. This occurs when the wicked cannot be slain without the good being killed with them, either because the wicked lie hidden among the good, or because they have many followers, so that they cannot be killed without danger to the good, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. iii, 2). Wherefore our Lord teaches that we should rather allow the wicked to live, and that vengeance is to be delayed until the last judgment, rather than that the good be put to death together with the wicked. When, however, the good incur no danger, but rather are protected and saved by the slaying of the wicked, then the latter may be lawfully put to death.
2. According to the order of His wisdom, God sometimes slays sinners forthwith in order to deliver the good, whereas sometimes He allows them time to repent, according as He knows what is expedient for His elect. This also does human justice imitate according to its powers; for it puts to death those who are dangerous to others, while it allows time for repentance to those who sin without grievously harming others.
3. By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and consequently falls away from the dignity of his manhood, in so far as he is naturally free, and exists for himself, and he falls into the slavish state of the beasts, by being disposed of according as he is useful to others. This is expressed in Ps 48,21: "Man, when he was in honor, did not understand; he hath been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them," and Pr 11,29: "The fool shall serve the wise." Hence, although it be evil in itself to kill a man so long as he preserve his dignity, yet it may be good to kill a man who has sinned, even as it is to kill a beast. For a bad man is worse than a beast, and is more harmful, as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 1 and Ethic. vii, 6).




Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.62 a.7