Sunday, May 07, 2006

st. thomas on which is worse: heresy or schism

On the contrary, That which results from an addition to something
else surpasses that thing either in good or in evil. Now heresy results
from something being added to schism, for it adds corrupt doctrine, as
Jerome declares in the passage quoted above (1, ad 3). Therefore schism
is a less grievous sin than unbelief.


I answer that, The gravity of a sin can be considered in two ways:
first, according to the species of that sin, secondly, according to its
circumstances. And since particular circumstances are infinite in
number, so too they can be varied in an infinite number of ways:
wherefore if one were to ask in general which of two sins is the
graver, the question must be understood to refer to the gravity derived
from the sin’s genus. Now the genus or species of a sin is taken from
its object, as shown above (I-II, 72, 1; I-II, 73, 3). Wherefore the
sin which is opposed to the greater good is, in respect of its genus,
more grievous, for instance a sin committed against God is graver than
a sin committed against one’s neighbor.


Now it is evident that unbelief is a sin committed against God
Himself, according as He is Himself the First Truth, on which faith is
founded; whereas schism is opposed to ecclesiastical unity, which is a
participated good, and a lesser good than God Himself. Wherefore it is
manifest that the sin of unbelief is generically more grievous than the
sin of schism, although it may happen that a particular schismatic sins
more grievously than a particular unbeliever, either because his
contempt is greater, or because his sin is a source of greater danger,
or for some similar reason.

Read the whole thing here.  First at T19.

5 comments:

J-Tron said...

Your headline makes no sense. Schism is heresy. It's like saying "Which is worse, killing a guy or stabbing him to death?"

father wb said...

JT --

Take it up with St. Thomas. I'm just the messenger.

J-Tron said...

I have no quarell with St. Thomas (at least not on this point). He's arguing that schism is not worse than unbelief. That I have no doubt of. It is far better to become a Protestant than an atheist. This does not make schism something seperate from heresy, even if heresy results from unbelief being added to schism. The two are intrinsically linked. In schismatic situations, the unbelief exacerbates the sin. Your headline makes it sound like Thomas is advising schism as a way of avoiding heresy, if it be necessary. I don't think that's what he's saying at all.

Thanks for the link though. I didn't realize New Advent had the whole Summa available online. That's very useful.

father wb said...

JT --

Not following you.

Thomas says: "...the sin of unbelief is... more grievous than the sin of schism..."

Which I put under the heading "st. thomas on which is worse: heresy or schism."

What's wrong with that? Should I have said: "st. thomas on which is more grievous: unbelief or schism"?

J-Tron said...

What's wrong with that? Should I have said: "st. thomas on which is more grievous: unbelief or schism"?

Yes, that would be more appropriate.