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.
Praeterea, II Machab. XIV dicitur quod Razias quidam seipsum interfecit, eligens nobiliter mori potius quam subditus fieri peccatoribus et contra natales suos iniuriis agi. Sed nihil quod nobiliter fit et fortiter, est illicitum. Ergo occidere seipsum non est illicitum.
Obj. 5: Further, it is related (2 Macc 14:42) that a certain Razias killed himself, choosing to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of the wicked, and to suffer abuses unbecoming his noble birth. Now nothing that is done nobly and bravely is unlawful. Therefore suicide is not unlawful.
Sed contra est quod Augustinus dicit, in I de Civ. Dei, restat ut de homine intelligamus quod dictum est, non occides. Nec alterum ergo, nec te. Neque enim aliud quam hominem occidit qui seipsum occidit.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 20): Hence it follows that the words ‘Thou shalt not kill’ refer to the killing of a man—not another man; therefore, not even thyself. For he who kills himself, kills nothing else than a man.
Respondeo dicendum quod seipsum occidere est omnino illicitum triplici ratione. Primo quidem, quia naturaliter quaelibet res seipsam amat, et ad hoc pertinet quod quaelibet res naturaliter conservat se in esse et corrumpentibus resistit quantum potest. Et ideo quod aliquis seipsum occidat est contra inclinationem naturalem, et contra caritatem, qua quilibet debet seipsum diligere. Et ideo occisio sui ipsius semper est peccatum mortale, utpote contra naturalem legem et contra caritatem existens. Secundo, quia quaelibet pars id quod est, est totius. Quilibet autem homo est pars communitatis, et ita id quod est, est communitatis. Unde in hoc quod seipsum interficit, iniuriam communitati facit, ut patet per philosophum, in V Ethic. Tertio, quia vita est quoddam donum divinitus homini attributum, et eius potestati subiectum qui occidit et vivere facit. Et ideo qui seipsum vita privat in Deum peccat, sicut qui alienum servum interficit peccat in dominum cuius est servus; et sicut peccat ille qui usurpat sibi iudicium de re sibi non commissa. Ad solum enim Deum pertinet iudicium mortis et vitae, secundum illud Deut. XXXII, ego occidam, et vivere faciam.
I answer that, It is altogether unlawful to kill oneself, for three reasons. First, because everything naturally loves itself, the result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being, and resists corruptions so far as it can. Wherefore suicide is contrary to the inclination of nature, and to charity whereby every man should love himself. Hence suicide is always a mortal sin, as being contrary to the natural law and to charity. Second, because every part, as such, belongs to the whole. Now every man is part of the community, and so, as such, he belongs to the community. Hence by killing himself he injures the community, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 11). Third, because life is God’s gift to man, and is subject to His power, Who kills and makes to live. Hence whoever takes his own life, sins against God, even as he who kills another’s slave, sins against that slave’s master, and as he who usurps to himself judgment of a matter not entrusted to him. For it belongs to God alone to pronounce sentence of death and life, according to Deut. 32:39, I will kill and I will make to live.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod homicidium est peccatum non solum quia contrariatur iustitiae, sed etiam quia contrariatur caritati quam habere debet aliquis ad seipsum. Et ex hac parte occisio sui ipsius est peccatum per comparationem ad seipsum. Per comparationem autem ad communitatem et ad Deum, habet rationem peccati etiam per oppositionem ad iustitiam.
Reply Obj. 1: Murder is a sin, not only because it is contrary to justice, but also because it is opposed to charity which a man should have towards himself: in this respect suicide is a sin in relation to oneself. In relation to the community and to God, it is sinful, by reason also of its opposition to justice.
Ad secundum dicendum quod ille qui habet publicam potestatem potest licite malefactorem occidere per hoc quod potest de ipso iudicare. Nullus autem est iudex sui ipsius. Unde non licet habenti publicam potestatem seipsum occidere propter quodcumque peccatum. Licet tamen ei se committere iudicio aliorum.
Reply Obj. 2: One who exercises public authority may lawfully put to death an evil-doer, since he can pass judgment on him. But no man is judge of himself. Wherefore it is not lawful for one who exercises public authority to put himself to death for any sin whatever: although he may lawfully commit himself to the judgment of others.
Ad tertium dicendum quod homo constituitur dominus sui ipsius per liberum arbitrium. Et ideo licite potest homo de seipso disponere quantum ad ea quae pertinent ad hanc vitam, quae hominis libero arbitrio regitur. Sed transitus de hac vita ad aliam feliciorem non subiacet libero arbitrio hominis, sed potestati divinae. Et ideo non licet homini seipsum interficere ut ad feliciorem transeat vitam. Similiter etiam nec ut miserias quaslibet praesentis vitae evadat. Quia ultimum malorum huius vitae et maxime terribile est mors, ut patet per philosophum, in III Ethic. Et ita inferre sibi mortem ad alias huius vitae miserias evadendas est maius malum assumere ad minoris mali vitationem. Similiter etiam non licet seipsum occidere propter aliquod peccatum commissum. Tum quia in hoc sibi maxime nocet quod sibi adimit necessarium poenitentiae tempus. Tum etiam quia malefactorem occidere non licet nisi per iudicium publicae potestatis. Similiter etiam non licet mulieri seipsam occidere ne ab alio corrumpatur. Quia non debet in se committere crimen maximum, quod est sui ipsius occisio, ut vitet minus crimen alienum (non enim est crimen mulieris per violentiam violatae, si consensus non adsit, quia non inquinatur corpus nisi de consensu mentis, ut Lucia dixit). Constat autem minus esse peccatum fornicationem vel adulterium quam homicidium, et praecipue sui ipsius, quod est gravissimum, quia sibi ipsi nocet, cui maximam dilectionem debet. Est etiam periculosissimum, quia non restat tempus ut per poenitentiam expietur. Similiter etiam nulli licet seipsum occidere ob timorem ne consentiat in peccatum. Quia non sunt facienda mala ut veniant bona, vel ut vitentur mala, praesertim minora et minus certa. Incertum enim est an aliquis in futurum consentiat in peccatum, potens est enim Deus hominem, quacumque tentatione superveniente, liberare a peccato.
Reply Obj. 3: Man is made master of himself through his free-will: wherefore he can lawfully dispose of himself as to those matters which pertain to this life which is ruled by man’s free-will. But the passage from this life to another and happier one is subject not to man’s free-will but to the power of God. Hence it is not lawful for man to take his own life that he may pass to a happier life, nor that he may escape any unhappiness whatsoever of the present life, because the ultimate and most fearsome evil of this life is death, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. iii, 6). Therefore to bring death upon oneself in order to escape the other afflictions of this life, is to adopt a greater evil in order to avoid a lesser. In like manner it is unlawful to take one’s own life on account of one’s having committed a sin, both because by so doing one does oneself a very great injury, by depriving oneself of the time needful for repentance, and because it is not lawful to slay an evildoer except by the sentence of the public authority. Again it is unlawful for a woman to kill herself lest she be violated, because she ought not to commit on herself the very great sin of suicide, to avoid the lesser sin of another. For she commits no sin in being violated by force, provided she does not consent, since without consent of the mind there is no stain on the body, as the Blessed Lucy declared. Now it is evident that fornication and adultery are less grievous sins than taking a man’s, especially one’s own, life: since the latter is most grievous, because one injures oneself, to whom one owes the greatest love. Moreover it is most dangerous since no time is left wherein to expiate it by repentance. Again it is not lawful for anyone to take his own life for fear he should consent to sin, because evil must not be done that good may come (Rom 3:8) or that evil may be avoided especially if the evil be of small account and an uncertain event, for it is uncertain whether one will at some future time consent to a sin, since God is able to deliver man from sin under any temptation whatever.
Ad quartum dicendum quod, sicut Augustinus dicit, in I de Civ. Dei, nec Samson aliter excusatur quod seipsum cum hostibus ruina domus oppressit, nisi quia latenter spiritus hoc iusserat, qui per illum miracula faciebat. Et eandem rationem assignat de quibusdam sanctis feminis quae tempore persecutionis seipsas occiderunt, quarum memoria in Ecclesia celebratur.
Reply Obj. 4: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 21), not even Samson is to be excused that he crushed himself together with his enemies under the ruins of the house, except the Holy Spirit, Who had wrought many wonders through him, had secretly commanded him to do this. He assigns the same reason in the case of certain holy women, who at the time of persecution took their own lives, and who are commemorated by the Church.
Ad quintum dicendum quod ad fortitudinem pertinet quod aliquis ab alio mortem pati non refugiat propter bonum virtutis, et ut vitet peccatum. Sed quod aliquis sibi ipsi inferat mortem ut vitet mala poenalia, habet quidem quandam speciem fortitudinis, propter quod quidam seipsos interfecerunt aestimantes se fortiter agere, de quorum numero Razias fuit, non tamen est vera fortitudo, sed magis quaedam mollities animi non valentis mala poenalia sustinere, ut patet per philosophum, in III Ethic., et per Augustinum, in I de Civ. Dei.
Reply Obj. 5: It belongs to fortitude that a man does not shrink from being slain by another, for the sake of the good of virtue, and that he may avoid sin. But that a man take his own life in order to avoid penal evils has indeed an appearance of fortitude (for which reason some, among whom was Razias, have killed themselves thinking to act from fortitude), yet it is not true fortitude, but rather a weakness of soul unable to bear penal evils, as the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 7) and Augustine (De Civ. Dei 22, 23) declare.
Utrum liceat in aliquo casu interficere innocentum
Whether it is lawful in any case to kill the innocent?
Ad sextum sic proceditur. Videtur quod liceat in aliquo casu interficere innocentem. Divinus enim timor non manifestatur per peccatum, quin magis timor domini expellit peccatum, ut dicitur Eccli. I. Sed Abraham commendatus est quod timuerit dominum, quia voluit interficere filium innocentem. Ergo potest aliquis innocentem interficere sine peccato.
Objection 1: It would seem that in some cases it is lawful to kill the innocent. The fear of God is never manifested by sin, since on the contrary the fear of the Lord driveth out sin (Sir 1:27). Now Abraham was commended in that he feared the Lord, since he was willing to slay his innocent son. Therefore one may, without sin, kill an innocent person.
Praeterea, in genere peccatorum quae contra proximum committuntur, tanto videtur aliquid esse maius peccatum quanto maius nocumentum infertur ei in quem peccatur. Sed occisio plus nocet peccatori quam innocenti, qui de miseria huius vitae ad caelestem gloriam transit per mortem. Cum ergo liceat in aliquo casu peccatorem occidere, multo magis licet occidere innocentem vel iustum.
Obj. 2: Further, among those sins that are committed against one’s neighbor, the more grievous seem to be those whereby a more grievous injury is inflicted on the person sinned against. Now to be killed is a greater injury to a sinful than to an innocent person, because the latter, by death, passes forthwith from the unhappiness of this life to the glory of heaven. Since then it is lawful in certain cases to kill a sinful man, much more is it lawful to slay an innocent or a righteous person.
Praeterea, illud quod fit secundum ordinem iustitiae non est peccatum. Sed quandoque cogitur aliquis secundum ordinem iustitiae occidere innocentem, puta cum iudex, qui debet secundum allegata iudicare, condemnat ad mortem eum quem scit innocentem, per falsos testes convictum; et similiter minister qui iniuste condemnatum occidit obediens iudici. Ergo absque peccato potest aliquis occidere innocentem.
Obj. 3: Further, what is done in keeping with the order of justice is not a sin. But sometimes a man is forced, according to the order of justice, to slay an innocent person: for instance, when a judge, who is bound to judge according to the evidence, condemns to death a man whom he knows to be innocent but who is convicted by false witnesses; and again the executioner, who in obedience to the judge puts to death the man who has been unjustly sentenced.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Exod. XXIII, innocentem et iustum non occides.
On the contrary, It is written (Exod 23:7): The innocent and just person thou shalt not put to death.
Respondeo dicendum quod aliquis homo dupliciter considerari potest, uno modo, secundum se; alio modo, per comparationem ad aliud. Secundum se quidem considerando hominem, nullum occidere licet, quia in quolibet, etiam peccatore, debemus amare naturam, quam Deus fecit, quae per occisionem corrumpitur. Sed sicut supra dictum est, occisio peccatoris fit licita per comparationem ad bonum commune, quod per peccatum corrumpitur. Vita autem iustorum est conservativa et promotiva boni communis, quia ipsi sunt principalior pars multitudinis. Et ideo nullo modo licet occidere innocentem.
I answer that, An individual man may be considered in two ways: first, in himself; second, in relation to something else. If we consider a man in himself, it is unlawful to kill any man, since in every man though he be sinful, we ought to love the nature which God has made, and which is destroyed by slaying him. Nevertheless, as stated above (A. 2) the slaying of a sinner becomes lawful in relation to the common good, which is corrupted by sin. On the other hand the life of righteous men preserves and forwards the common good, since they are the chief part of the community. Therefore it is in no way lawful to slay the innocent.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Deus habet dominium mortis et vitae, eius enim ordinatione moriuntur et peccatores et iusti. Et ideo ille qui mandato Dei occidit innocentem, talis non peccat, sicut nec Deus, cuius est executor, et ostenditur Deum timere, eius mandatis obediens.
Reply Obj. 1: God is Lord of death and life, for by His decree both the sinful and the righteous die. Hence he who at God’s command kills an innocent man does not sin, as neither does God Whose behest he executes: indeed his obedience to God’s commands is a proof that he fears Him.
Ad secundum dicendum quod in pensanda gravitate peccati magis est considerandum illud quod est per se quam illud quod est per accidens. Unde ille qui occidit iustum gravius peccat quam ille qui occidit peccatorem. Primo quidem, quia nocet ei quem plus debet diligere, et ita magis contra caritatem agit. Secundo, quia iniuriam infert ei qui est minus dignus, et ita magis contra iustitiam agit. Tertio, quia privat communitatem maiori bono. Quarto, quia magis Deum contemnit, secundum illud Luc. X, qui vos spernit, me spernit. Quod autem iustus occisus ad gloriam perducatur a Deo, per accidens se habet ad occisionem.
Reply Obj. 2: In weighing the gravity of a sin we must consider the essential rather than the accidental. Wherefore he who kills a just man, sins more grievously than he who slays a sinful man: first, because he injures one whom he should love more, and so acts more in opposition to charity: second, because he inflicts an injury on a man who is less deserving of one, and so acts more in opposition to justice: third, because he deprives the community of a greater good: fourth, because he despises God more, according to Luke 10:16, He that despiseth you despiseth Me. On the other hand it is accidental to the slaying that the just man whose life is taken be received by God into glory.
Ad tertium dicendum quod iudex, si scit aliquem esse innocentem qui falsis testibus convincitur, debet diligentius examinare testes, ut inveniat occasionem liberandi innoxium, sicut Daniel fecit. Si autem hoc non potest, debet eum ad superiorem remittere iudicandum. Si autem nec hoc potest, non peccat secundum allegata sententiam ferens, quia non ipse occidit innocentem, sed illi qui eum asserunt nocentem. Minister autem iudicis condemnantis innocentem, si sententia intolerabilem errorem contineat, non debet obedire, alias excusarentur carnifices qui martyres occiderunt. Si vero non contineat manifestam iniustitiam, non peccat praeceptum exequendo, quia ipse non habet discutere superioris sententiam; nec ipse occidit innocentem, sed iudex, cui ministerium adhibet.
Reply Obj. 3: If the judge knows that a man who has been convicted by false witnesses, is innocent he must, like Daniel, examine the witnesses with great care, so as to find a motive for acquitting the innocent: but if he cannot do this he should remit him for judgment by a higher tribunal. If even this is impossible, he does not sin if he pronounce sentence in accordance with the evidence, for it is not he that puts the innocent man to death, but they who stated him to be guilty. He that carries out the sentence of the judge who has condemned an innocent man, if the sentence contains an inexcusable error, he should not obey, else there would be an excuse for the executions of the martyrs: if however it contain no manifest injustice, he does not sin by carrying out the sentence, because he has no right to discuss the judgment of his superior; nor is it he who slays the innocent man, but the judge whose minister he is.
Utrum alicui liceat occidere aliquem se defendendo
Whether it is lawful to kill a man in self-defense?
Ad septimum sic proceditur. Videtur quod nulli liceat occidere aliquem se defendendo. Dicit enim Augustinus, ad Publicolam, de occidendis hominibus ne ab eis quisquam occidatur, non mihi placet consilium, nisi forte sit miles, aut publica functione teneatur, ut non pro se hoc faciat sed pro aliis, accepta legitima potestate, si eius congruat personae. Sed ille qui se defendendo occidit aliquem, ad hoc eum occidit ne ipse ab eo occidatur. Ergo hoc videtur esse illicitum.
Objection 1: It would seem that nobody may lawfully kill a man in self-defense. For Augustine says to Publicola (Ep. xlvii): I do not agree with the opinion that one may kill a man lest one be killed by him; unless one be a soldier, exercise a public office, so that one does it not for oneself but for others, having the power to do so, provided it be in keeping with one’s person. Now he who kills a man in self-defense, kills him lest he be killed by him. Therefore this would seem to be unlawful.
Praeterea, in I de Lib. Arb. dicitur, quomodo apud divinam providentiam a peccato liberi sunt qui pro his rebus quas contemni oportet, humana caede polluti sunt? Eas autem res dicit esse contemnendas quas homines inviti amittere possunt, ut ex praemissis patet. Horum autem est vita corporalis. Ergo pro conservanda vita corporali nulli licitum est hominem occidere.
Obj. 2: Further, he says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): How are they free from sin in sight of Divine providence, who are guilty of taking a man’s life for the sake of these contemptible things? Now among contemptible things he reckons those which men may forfeit unwillingly, as appears from the context (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): and the chief of these is the life of the body. Therefore it is unlawful for any man to take another’s life for the sake of the life of his own body.
Praeterea, Nicolaus Papa dicit, et habetur in decretis, dist. l, de clericis pro quibus consuluisti, scilicet qui se defendendo Paganum occiderunt, si postea per poenitentiam possent ad pristinum statum redire aut ad altiorem ascendere, scito nos nullam occasionem dare, nec ullam tribuere licentiam eis quemlibet hominem quolibet modo occidendi. Sed ad praecepta moralia servanda tenentur communiter clerici et laici. Ergo etiam laicis non est licitum occidere aliquem se defendendo.
Obj. 3: Further, Pope Nicolas says in the Decretals: Concerning the clerics about whom you have consulted Us, those, namely, who have killed a pagan in self-defense, as to whether, after making amends by repenting, they may return to their former state, or rise to a higher degree; know that in no case is it lawful for them to kill any man under any circumstances whatever. Now clerics and laymen are alike bound to observe the moral precepts. Therefore neither is it lawful for laymen to kill anyone in self-defense.
Praeterea, homicidium est gravius peccatum quam simplex fornicatio vel adulterium. Sed nulli licet committere simplicem fornicationem vel adulterium, vel quodcumque aliud peccatum mortale, pro conservatione propriae vitae, quia vita spiritualis praeferenda est corporali. Ergo nulli licet, defendendo seipsum, alium occidere ut propriam vitam conservet.
Obj. 4: Further, murder is a more grievous sin than fornication or adultery. Now nobody may lawfully commit simple fornication or adultery or any other mortal sin in order to save his own life; since the spiritual life is to be preferred to the life of the body. Therefore no man may lawfully take another’s life in self-defense in order to save his own life.
Praeterea, si arbor est mala, et fructus, ut dicitur Matth. VII. Sed ipsa defensio sui videtur esse illicita, secundum illud Rom. XII, non vos defendentes, carissimi. Ergo et occisio hominis exinde procedens est illicita.
Obj. 5: Further, if the tree be evil, so is the fruit, according to Matt. 7:17. Now self-defense itself seems to be unlawful, according to Rom. 12:19: Not defending yourselves, my dearly beloved. Therefore its result, which is the slaying of a man, is also unlawful.
Sed contra est quod Exod. XXII dicitur, si effringens fur domum sive suffodiens fuerit inventus, et, accepto vulnere, mortuus fuerit, percussor non erit reus sanguinis. Sed multo magis licitum est defendere propriam vitam quam propriam domum. Ergo etiam si aliquis occidat aliquem pro defensione vitae suae, non erit reus homicidii.
On the contrary, It is written (Exod 22:2): If a thief be found breaking into a house or undermining it, and be wounded so as to die; he that slew him shall not be guilty of blood. Now it is much more lawful to defend one’s life than one’s house. Therefore neither is a man guilty of murder if he kill another in defense of his own life.
Respondeo dicendum quod nihil prohibet unius actus esse duos effectus, quorum alter solum sit in intentione, alius vero sit praeter intentionem. Morales autem actus recipiunt speciem secundum id quod intenditur, non autem ab eo quod est praeter intentionem, cum sit per accidens, ut ex supradictis patet. Ex actu igitur alicuius seipsum defendentis duplex effectus sequi potest, unus quidem conservatio propriae vitae; alius autem occisio invadentis. Actus igitur huiusmodi ex hoc quod intenditur conservatio propriae vitae, non habet rationem illiciti, cum hoc sit cuilibet naturale quod se conservet in esse quantum potest. Potest tamen aliquis actus ex bona intentione proveniens illicitus reddi si non sit proportionatus fini. Et ideo si aliquis ad defendendum propriam vitam utatur maiori violentia quam oporteat, erit illicitum. Si vero moderate violentiam repellat, erit licita defensio, nam secundum iura, vim vi repellere licet cum moderamine inculpatae tutelae. Nec est necessarium ad salutem ut homo actum moderatae tutelae praetermittat ad evitandum occisionem alterius, quia plus tenetur homo vitae suae providere quam vitae alienae. Sed quia occidere hominem non licet nisi publica auctoritate propter bonum commune, ut ex supradictis patet; illicitum est quod homo intendat occidere hominem ut seipsum defendat, nisi ei qui habet publicam auctoritatem, qui, intendens hominem occidere ad sui defensionem, refert hoc ad publicum bonum, ut patet in milite pugnante contra hostes, et in ministro iudicis pugnante contra latrones. Quamvis et isti etiam peccent si privata libidine moveantur.
I answer that, Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above (Q. 43, A. 3; I-II, Q. 12, A. 1). Accordingly the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one’s life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one’s intention is to save one’s own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in being, as far as possible. And yet, though proceeding from a good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful, if it be out of proportion to the end. Wherefore if a man, in self-defense, uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repel force with moderation his defense will be lawful, because according to the jurists, it is lawful to repel force by force, provided one does not exceed the limits of a blameless defense. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense in order to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s. But as it is unlawful to take a man’s life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (A. 3), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod auctoritas Augustini intelligenda est in eo casu quo quis intendit occidere hominem ut seipsum a morte liberet.
Reply Obj. 1: The words quoted from Augustine refer to the case when one man intends to kill another to save himself from death.
In quo etiam casu intelligitur auctoritas inducta ex libro de libero arbitrio. Unde signanter dicitur, pro his rebus, in quo designatur intentio. Et per hoc patet responsio ad secundum.
The passage quoted in the Second Objection is to be understood in the same sense. Hence he says pointedly, for the sake of these things, whereby he indicates the intention. This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.
Ad tertium dicendum quod irregularitas consequitur actum homicidii etiam si sit absque peccato, ut patet in iudice qui iuste aliquem condemnat ad mortem. Et propter hoc clericus, etiam si se defendendo interficiat aliquem, irregularis est, quamvis non intendat occidere, sed seipsum defendere.
Reply Obj. 3: Irregularity results from the act though sinless of taking a man’s life, as appears in the case of a judge who justly condemns a man to death. For this reason a cleric, though he kill a man in self-defense, is irregular, albeit he intends not to kill him, but to defend himself.