Utrum sit licitum occidere homines peccatores
Whether it is lawful to kill sinners?
Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod non sit licitum occidere homines peccatores. Dominus enim, Matth. XIII, in parabola, prohibuit extirpare zizania, qui sunt filii nequam, ut ibidem dicitur. Sed omne quod est prohibitum a Deo est peccatum. Ergo occidere peccatorem est peccatum.
Objection 1: It would seem unlawful to kill men who have sinned. For our Lord in the parable (Matt 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.
Praeterea, iustitia humana conformatur iustitiae divinae. Sed secundum divinam iustitiam peccatores ad poenitentiam reservantur, secundum illud Ezech. XVIII, nolo mortem peccatoris, sed ut convertatur et vivat. Ergo videtur esse omnino iniustum quod peccatores occidantur.
Obj. 2: Further, human justice is conformed to Divine justice. Now according to Divine justice sinners are kept back for repentance, according to Ezech. 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.
Praeterea, illud quod est secundum se malum nullo bono fine fieri licet, ut patet per Augustinum, in libro contra mendacium, et per philosophum, in II Ethic. Sed occidere hominem secundum se est malum, quia ad omnes homines debemus caritatem habere; amicos autem volumus vivere et esse, ut dicitur in IX Ethic. Ergo nullo modo licet hominem peccatorem interficere.
Obj. 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.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Exod. XXII, maleficos non patieris vivere; et in Psalm., in matutino interficiebam omnes peccatores terrae.
On the contrary, It is written (Exod 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.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, licitum est occidere animalia bruta inquantum ordinantur naturaliter ad hominum usum, sicut imperfectum ordinatur ad perfectum. Omnis autem pars ordinatur ad totum ut imperfectum ad perfectum. Et ideo omnis pars naturaliter est propter totum. Et propter hoc videmus quod si saluti totius corporis humani expediat praecisio alicuius membri, puta cum est putridum et corruptivum aliorum, laudabiliter et salubriter abscinditur. Quaelibet autem persona singularis comparatur ad totam communitatem sicut pars ad totum. Et ideo si aliquis homo sit periculosus communitati et corruptivus ipsius propter aliquod peccatum, laudabiliter et salubriter occiditur, ut bonum commune conservetur, modicum enim fermentum totam massam corrumpit, ut dicitur I ad Cor. V.
I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), it is lawful to kill dumb animals, insofar 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 (1 Cor 5:6).
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod dominus abstinendum mandavit ab eradicatione zizaniorum ut tritico parceretur, idest bonis. Quod quidem fit quando non possunt occidi mali quin simul occidantur et boni, vel quia latent inter bonos; vel quia habent multos sequaces, ita quod sine bonorum periculo interfici non possunt; ut Augustinus dicit, contra Parmen. Unde dominus docet magis esse sinendum malos vivere, et ultionem reservandum usque ad extremum iudicium, quam quod boni simul occidantur. Quando vero ex occisione malorum non imminet periculum bonis, sed magis tutela et salus, tunc licite possunt mali occidi.
Reply Obj. 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.
Ad secundum dicendum quod Deus, secundum ordinem suae sapientiae, quandoque statim peccatores occidit, ad liberationem bonorum; quandoque autem eis poenitendi tempus concedit; secundum quod ipse novit suis electis expedire. Et hoc etiam humana iustitia imitatur pro posse, illos enim qui sunt perniciosi in alios, occidit; eos vero qui peccant aliis graviter non nocentes, ad poenitentiam reservat.
Reply Obj. 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.
Ad tertium dicendum quod homo peccando ab ordine rationis recedit, et ideo decidit a dignitate humana, prout scilicet homo est naturaliter liber et propter seipsum existens, et incidit quodammodo in servitutem bestiarum, ut scilicet de ipso ordinetur secundum quod est utile aliis; secundum illud Psalm., homo, cum in honore esset, non intellexit, comparatus est iumentis insipientibus, et similis factus est illis; et Prov. XI dicitur, qui stultus est serviet sapienti. Et ideo quamvis hominem in sua dignitate manentem occidere sit secundum se malum, tamen hominem peccatorem occidere potest esse bonum, sicut occidere bestiam, peior enim est malus homo bestia, et plus nocet, ut philosophus dicit, in I Polit. et in VII Ethic.
Reply Obj. 3: By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and consequently falls away from the dignity of his manhood, insofar 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 Prov. 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).
Utrum occidere hominem peccatorum liceat privatae personae
Whether it is lawful for a private individual to kill a man who has sinned?
Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod occidere hominem peccatorem liceat privatae personae. In lege enim divina nihil illicitum mandatur. Sed Exod. XXXII praecepit Moyses, occidat unusquisque proximum suum, fratrem et amicum suum, pro peccato vituli conflatilis. Ergo etiam privatis personis licet peccatorem occidere.
Objection 1: It would seem lawful for a private individual to kill a man who has sinned. For nothing unlawful is commanded in the Divine law. Yet, on account of the sin of the molten calf, Moses commanded (Exod 32:27): Let every man kill his brother, and friend, and neighbor. Therefore it is lawful for private individuals to kill a sinner.
Praeterea, homo propter peccatum bestiis comparatur, ut dictum est. Sed occidere bestiam sylvestrem, maxime nocentem, cuilibet privatae personae licet. Ergo, pari ratione, occidere hominem peccatorem.
Obj. 2: Further, as stated above (A. 2, ad 3), man, on account of sin, is compared to the beasts. Now it is lawful for any private individual to kill a wild beast, especially if it be harmful. Therefore for the same reason, it is lawful for any private individual to kill a man who has sinned.
Praeterea, laudabile est quod homo, etiam si sit privata persona, operetur quod est utile bono communi. Sed occisio maleficorum est utilis bono communi, ut dictum est. Ergo laudabile est si etiam privatae personae malefactores occidant.
Obj. 3: Further, a man, though a private individual, deserves praise for doing what is useful for the common good. Now the slaying of evildoers is useful for the common good, as stated above (A. 2). Therefore it is deserving of praise if even private individuals kill evil-doers.
Sed contra est quod Augustinus dicit, in I de Civ. Dei, qui sine aliqua publica administratione maleficum interfecerit, velut homicida iudicabitur, et tanto amplius quanto sibi potestatem a Deo non concessam usurpare non timuit.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i): A man who, without exercising public authority, kills an evil-doer, shall be judged guilty of murder, and all the more, since he has dared to usurp a power which God has not given him.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, occidere malefactorem licitum est inquantum ordinatur ad salutem totius communitatis. Et ideo ad illum solum pertinet cui committitur cura communitatis conservandae, sicut ad medicum pertinet praecidere membrum putridum quando ei commissa fuerit cura salutis totius corporis. Cura autem communis boni commissa est principibus habentibus publicam auctoritatem. Et ideo eis solum licet malefactores occidere, non autem privatis personis.
I answer that, As stated above (A. 2), it is lawful to kill an evildoer insofar as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community, so that it belongs to him alone who has charge of the community’s welfare. Thus it belongs to a physician to cut off a decayed limb, when he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ille aliquid facit cuius auctoritate fit, ut patet per Dionysium, XIII cap. Cael. Hier. Et ideo, ut Augustinus dicit, in I de Civ. Dei, non ipse occidit qui ministerium debet iubenti sicut adminiculum gladius utenti. Unde illi qui occiderunt proximos et amicos ex mandato domini, non hoc fecisse ipsi videntur, sed potius ille cuius auctoritate fecerunt, sicut et miles interficit hostem auctoritate principis, et minister latronem auctoritate iudicis.
Reply Obj. 1: The person by whose authority a thing is done really does the thing as Dionysius declares (Coel. Hier. iii). Hence according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, 21), He slays not who owes his service to one who commands him, even as a sword is merely the instrument to him that wields it. Wherefore those who, at the Lord’s command, slew their neighbors and friends, would seem not to have done this themselves, but rather He by whose authority they acted thus: just as a soldier slays the foe by the authority of his sovereign, and the executioner slays the robber by the authority of the judge.
Ad secundum dicendum quod bestia naturaliter est distincta ab homine. Unde super hoc non requiritur aliquod iudicium an sit occidenda, si sit sylvestris. Si vero sit domestica, requiretur iudicium non propter ipsam, sed propter damnum domini. Sed homo peccator non est naturaliter distinctus ab hominibus iustis. Et ideo indiget publico iudicio, ut discernatur an sit occidendus propter communem salutem.
Reply Obj. 2: A beast is by nature distinct from man, wherefore in the case of a wild beast there is no need for an authority to kill it; whereas, in the case of domestic animals, such authority is required, not for their sake, but on account of the owner’s loss. On the other hand a man who has sinned is not by nature distinct from good men; hence a public authority is requisite in order to condemn him to death for the common good.
Ad tertium dicendum quod facere aliquid ad utilitatem communem quod nulli nocet, hoc est licitum cuilibet privatae personae. Sed si sit cum nocumento alterius, hoc non debet fieri nisi secundum iudicium eius ad quem pertinet existimare quid sit subtrahendum partibus pro salute totius.
Reply Obj. 3: It is lawful for any private individual to do anything for the common good, provided it harm nobody: but if it be harmful to some other, it cannot be done, except by virtue of the judgment of the person to whom it pertains to decide what is to be taken from the parts for the welfare of the whole.
Utrum occidere malefactores liceat clericis
Whether it is lawful for clerics to kill evil-doers?
Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod occidere malefactores liceat clericis. Clerici enim praecipue debent implere quod apostolus dicit, I ad Cor. IV, imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi, per quod nobis indicitur ut Deum et sanctos eius imitemur. Sed ipse Deus, quem colimus, occidit malefactores, secundum illud Psalm., qui percussit Aegyptum cum primogenitis eorum. Moyses etiam a Levitis fecit interfici viginti tria millia hominum propter adorationem vituli, ut habetur Exod. XXXII. Et Phinees, sacerdos, interfecit Israelitem coeuntem cum Madianitide, ut habetur Num. XXV. Samuel etiam interfecit Agag, regem Amalec; et Elias sacerdotes Baal; et Mathathias eum qui ad sacrificandum accesserat; et in novo testamento, Petrus Ananiam et Saphiram. Ergo videtur quod etiam clericis liceat occidere malefactores.
Objection 1: It would seem lawful for clerics to kill evil-doers. For clerics especially should fulfill the precept of the Apostle (1 Cor 4:16): Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ, whereby we are called upon to imitate God and His saints. Now the very God whom we worship puts evildoers to death, according to Ps. 135:10, Who smote Egypt with their firstborn. Again Moses made the Levites slay twenty-three thousand men on account of the worship of the calf (Exod 32), the priest Phinees slew the Israelite who went in to the woman of Madian (Num 25), Samuel killed Agag king of Amalec (1 Kgs 15), Elias slew the priests of Baal (3 Kgs 18), Mathathias killed the man who went up to the altar to sacrifice (1 Macc 2); and, in the New Testament, Peter killed Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5). Therefore it seems that even clerics may kill evil-doers.
Praeterea, potestas spiritualis est maior quam temporalis, et Deo coniunctior. Sed potestas temporalis licite malefactores occidit tanquam Dei minister, ut dicitur Rom. XIII. Ergo multo magis clerici, qui sunt Dei ministri spiritualem potestatem habentes, licite possunt malefactores occidere.
Obj. 2: Further, spiritual power is greater than the secular and is more united to God. Now the secular power as God’s minister lawfully puts evil-doers to death, according to Rom. 13:4. Much more therefore may clerics, who are God’s ministers and have spiritual power, put evil-doers to death.
Praeterea, quicumque licite suscipit aliquod officium, licite potest ea exercere quae ad officium illud pertinent. Sed officium principis terrae est malefactores occidere, ut dictum est. Ergo clerici qui sunt terrarum principes, licite possunt occidere malefactores.
Obj. 3: Further, whosoever lawfully accepts an office, may lawfully exercise the functions of that office. Now it belongs to the princely office to slay evildoers, as stated above (A. 3). Therefore those clerics who are earthly princes may lawfully slay malefactors.
Sed contra est quod dicitur I ad Tim. III, oportet episcopum sine crimine esse, non vinolentum, non percussorem.
On the contrary, It is written (1 Tim 3:2, 3): It behooveth . . . a bishop to be without crime . . . not given to wine, no striker.
Respondeo dicendum quod non licet clericis occidere, duplici ratione. Primo quidem, quia sunt electi ad altaris ministerium, in quo repraesentatur passio Christi occisi, qui cum percuteretur, non repercutiebat, ut dicitur I Pet. II. Et ideo non competit ut clerici sint percussores aut occisores, debent enim ministri suum dominum imitari, secundum illud Eccli. X, secundum iudicem populi, sic et ministri eius. Alia ratio est quia clericis committitur ministerium novae legis, in qua non determinatur poena occisionis vel mutilationis corporalis. Et ideo, ut sint idonei ministri novi testamenti, debent a talibus abstinere.
I answer that, It is unlawful for clerics to kill, for two reasons. First, because they are chosen for the ministry of the altar, whereon is represented the Passion of Christ slain Who, when He was struck did not strike (1 Pet 2:23). Therefore it becomes not clerics to strike or kill: for ministers should imitate their master, according to Ecclus. 10:2, As the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers. The other reason is because clerics are entrusted with the ministry of the New Law, wherein no punishment of death or of bodily maiming is appointed: wherefore they should abstain from such things in order that they may be fitting ministers of the New Testament.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Deus universaliter in omnibus operatur quae recta sunt, in unoquoque tamen secundum eius congruentiam. Et ideo unusquisque debet Deum imitari in hoc quod sibi specialiter congruit. Unde licet Deus corporaliter etiam malefactores occidat, non tamen oportet quod omnes in hoc eum imitentur. Petrus autem non propria auctoritate vel manu Ananiam et Saphiram interfecit, sed magis divinam sententiam de eorum morte promulgavit. Sacerdotes autem vel Levitae veteris testamenti erant ministri veteris legis, secundum quam poenae corporales infligebantur, et ideo etiam eis occidere propria manu congruebat.
Reply Obj. 1: God works in all things without exception whatever is right, yet in each one according to its mode. Wherefore everyone should imitate God in that which is specially becoming to him. Hence, though God slays evildoers even corporally, it does not follow that all should imitate Him in this. As regards Peter, he did not put Ananias and Saphira to death by his own authority or with his own hand, but published their death sentence pronounced by God. The Priests or Levites of the Old Testament were the ministers of the Old Law, which appointed corporal penalties, so that it was fitting for them to slay with their own hands.
Ad secundum dicendum quod ministerium clericorum est in melioribus ordinatum quam sint corporales occisiones, scilicet in his quae pertinent ad salutem spiritualem. Et ideo non congruit eis quod minoribus se ingerant.
Reply Obj. 2: The ministry of clerics is concerned with better things than corporal slayings, namely with things pertaining to spiritual welfare, and so it is not fitting for them to meddle with minor matters.
Ad tertium dicendum quod praelati Ecclesiarum accipiunt officia principum terrae non ut ipsi iudicium sanguinis exerceant per seipsos, sed quod eorum auctoritate per alios exerceatur.
Reply Obj. 3: Ecclesiastical prelates accept the office of earthly princes, not that they may inflict capital punishment themselves, but that this may be carried into effect by others in virtue of their authority.
Utrum alicui liceat seipsum occidere
Whether it is lawful to kill oneself?
Ad quintum sic proceditur. Videtur quod alicui liceat seipsum occidere. Homicidium enim est peccatum inquantum iustitiae contrariatur. Sed nullus potest sibi ipsi iniustitiam facere, ut probatur in V Ethic. Ergo nullus peccat occidendo seipsum.
Objection 1: It would seem lawful for a man to kill himself. For murder is a sin insofar as it is contrary to justice. But no man can do an injustice to himself, as is proved in Ethic. v, 11. Therefore no man sins by killing himself.
Praeterea, occidere malefactores licet habenti publicam potestatem. Sed quandoque ille qui habet publicam potestatem est malefactor. Ergo licet ei occidere seipsum.
Obj. 2: Further, it is lawful, for one who exercises public authority, to kill evil-doers. Now he who exercises public authority is sometimes an evil-doer. Therefore he may lawfully kill himself.
Praeterea, licitum est quod aliquis spontanee minus periculum subeat ut maius periculum vitet, sicut licitum est quod aliquis etiam sibi ipsi amputet membrum putridum ut totum corpus salvetur. Sed quandoque aliquis per occisionem sui ipsius vitat maius malum, vel miseram vitam vel turpitudinem alicuius peccati. Ergo licet alicui occidere seipsum.
Obj. 3: Further, it is lawful for a man to suffer spontaneously a lesser danger that he may avoid a greater: thus it is lawful for a man to cut off a decayed limb even from himself, that he may save his whole body. Now sometimes a man, by killing himself, avoids a greater evil, for example an unhappy life, or the shame of sin. Therefore a man may kill himself.
Praeterea, Samson seipsum interfecit, ut habetur Iudic. XVI, qui tamen connumeratur inter sanctos, ut patet Heb. XI. Ergo licitum est alicui occidere seipsum.
Obj. 4: Further, Samson killed himself, as related in Judges 16, and yet he is numbered among the saints (Heb 11). Therefore it is lawful for a man to kill himself.