Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
De Lugo on Heresy, translated by J.S. Daly
De Lugo on the Pertinacity Required for Heresy
(Disputationes Scholasticae et Morales, Disp. XX, De Virtute Fidei Divinae, Sectio vi, n. 174 et seq.)
Various reasons are brought forward by its proponents to support this opinion. The strongest of them is that according to which, as we have said at the places to which references have been given, the infused habit of faith is not expelled on account of a sin against faith committed through ignorance because the habit of faith is not lost as long as a man remains in that disposition in which he can elicit acts of Divine Faith concerning the articles sufficiently proposed to him. Thus by his own completed sin of infidelity it is lost, because then the man, as far as he is able, casts faith aside and cannot, as long as he remains in that disposition, believe with an act of Divine Faith and from the due will of pious affection any article proposed to him - an indisposition which does not arise from an evil dissent derived from ignorance, because in this latter case he can still have a universal and devout intention to believe most firmly all things which are sufficiently proposed to him as having been revealed by God, even though he has no intention of being diligent in finding out what God has revealed. Consequently he sins against faith, but is not simply and absolutely faithless, but is one of the faithful, believing all things that have been revealed by God and sufficiently proposed to him. Hence, with due proportion, the same is to be said in our case, namely that no-one is simply and absolutely a heretic unless he knowingly withdraws from the Church, for one who withdraws through ignorance remains in such a disposition that he can accept and most firmly believe whatever is sufficiently proposed to him as teaching of the Church, so that just as he who denies [an article of] the Faith through even culpable ignorance does not lose faith or withdraw from faith, so too one who withdraws from the doctrine of the Catholic Church through even culpable ignorance does not lose Catholicity, nor does he withdraw from the Catholic Church, and therefore is not a heretic, because notwithstanding that sin he can still sincerely say that he believes most firmly everything which the Church has proposed and taught. This will become clearer in the light of the solutions I am about to offer to the many arguments commonly brought against this opinion by its opponents.
In the first place, they argue on the basis of St. Augustine's words [reference]: "Those who defend their opinion, no matter how false and perverse it may be, without pertinacious insistence, and with all solicitude seek the truth, prepared to correct their opinions when they have found it, are not to be counted among heretics." In these words Augustine excuses from pertinacity and heresy only those who solicitously seek the truth, not those who neglect to look for it and much less those who deliberately run away to avoid finding it. The answer to this is that Augustine at this place does indeed excuse those who are seeking the truth, but as for those others who do not speak the truth, while not excusing them, neither does he say that they are heretics. He declared what was certain and refrained from discussing what was less certain. For neither does he condemn as heretics those who, while seeking the truth, do not do so "with all solicitude". Moreover, this argument is a two-edged sword because the same Augustine in other places [references] declares only those to be heretics who having been admonished, and recognising that the Church teaches the contrary, still pertinaciously resists. He says, "Those who hold some diseased and perverse opinion in the Church, if, when they are corrected, in order that they may be brought to the correct and wholesome view, contumaciously resist and are unwilling to amend their pestiferous and deadly doctrines but insist on defending them, are heretics." He teaches the same thing in Book 4, Chapter 16 of his work on Baptism against the Donatists, saying that one who, through error, believes the same as Photinus becomes a heretic for the first time when, the doctrine of the Catholic Faith being made known to him, he prefers to reject it and chooses that which he had held.
It might more plausibly be argued on the basis of these texts that one is not a heretic, not only as long as one errs through ignorance, but even for as long as one has not been admonished, but this conclusion would be excessive as we have seen above.
The second objection made is that in other matters a sin committed through ignorance shares the same malice as the corresponding sin committed knowingly and belongs to the same species, for one who kills through culpable ignorance is a homicide, and one who fornicates through culpable ignorance is a fornicator, and so on; therefore [they say] one who embraces heresy through culpable ignorance will also be a heretic. They base this on the principle that what is directly voluntary and what is indirectly voluntary belong to the same species of sin, which can be established by induction from the other sins. Various solutions are put forward by the authors to this argument, which are quoted, and attacked by Hurtado [reference] and I also have extensively attacked them, loc.cit. On Penitence, and I shall therefore not repeat them now. At the same place, I have also denied that there is any difference in this respect between heresy and other sins, for, just as disobedience, whether committed ignorantly or knowingly, belongs to the same species, so knowledge or ignorance do not make any specific distinction in the case of sins against faith. Hence the sin of a heretic does not differ in moral species from the sin of one who errs through ignorance, though it differs in degree, on account of the circumstances of knowledge which increases the gravity within the same species, and, by reason of that circumstance and the greater gravity, it makes the denomination "heretic" appropriate and inflicts the penalties of heretics which, in the absence of that circumstance, would not be incurred. This doctrine, Suarez [Reference] admits to be probable and to be a sufficient answer to the argument put forward. It is attacked, however, by Hurtado [reference] on the grounds that although there is no difference as to objective species between a voluntary action done in ignorance and the same action done knowingly, nonetheless they differ as to intrinsic physical and moral species, because their express knowledge makes the act more voluntary. And this difference is more manifest in the sin of heresy, because the sin committed through ignorance has for its object the refusal of study and diligence, whereas the sin committed knowingly has for its objects the rejection of the authority of the Church - two things which manifestly differ in moral species just as much as the sin of a man who denies revelation to have taken place differs in species from the sin of one who denies the infallible veracity of God, and consequently denies His authority. And in this respect the example of homicide is different, because in the case of homicide, whether it is committed knowingly or through culpable ignorance, it is the same object that is injured as which is known, namely the life of a man, whereas in our case, a different object is injured from that which is known; for one who sins through ignorance denies only the revealed object and does not wish to know its proposal by the Church, whereas a heretic denies the revealed object and the authority of the Church which he knows to be opposed to him. Wherefore, the same author [reference] replies to the proposed argument that, whatever may be the case with other sins, and granted that they do not differ in species according to whether they were committed knowingly or in ignorance, nonetheless in this matter they are entirely different because through heresy the authority of the Church is injured, which is in no wise injured or denied by one who errs through ignorance who, indeed, rather believes and admits the infallible authority of the Church in proposing.
This doctrine of Hurtado I find unsatisfactory in both respects. For in the first place it falsely supposes that in other sins the presence of knowledge or ignorance introduces a specific, moral, intrinsic difference, which I have shown to be false - as the common opinion holds - more extensively, loc. cit., On Penitence. This difference between other sins and sins against faith cannot be explained in this way. For just as through homicide committed with culpable ignorance the life of man is injured, so through material heresy committed in culpable ignorance, the authority of the Church is injured and offended, since it is sufficient for this that one realise at least the danger of resisting the Church, a danger which can be realised even by one who errs through culpable ignorance, just as one who killed a man through culpable ignorance, though he does not know that what he thinks to be a beast is in fact a man, nevertheless recognises the danger of killing a man and the obligation of employing diligence and investigating the matter; were it otherwise, such a one would not contract the guilt of homicide. [Should "homicide" everywhere be rendered "murder"? - J.S.D.] Likewise, therefore, with the sin of culpable ignorance concerning matters of faith, there is present advertence to the danger of departing from the teaching of the Church, which being the case, our question of whether such an individual be a heretic or not proceeds. And in this case, the distinction made by Hurtado has no place, for just as homicide, whether committed knowingly or in ignorance, injures the same object, because culpable ignorance does not take away knowledge of the danger of killing a man, and this is sufficient that the same objective malice should exist in each act, so too, error in faith, whether perpetrated knowingly or through culpable ignorance injures the same object, namely the authority of the Church as ignorance does not take away advertence to the obligation of investigating, in view of the danger that is at hand of departing from the teaching of the Church; nor is it apparent what difference can be assigned between the two kinds of sins.
Moreover, the example which he adduces concerning the specific objective difference between one who denies the revelation of God, and one who denies His truthfulness, is not well founded, nor is it relevant. In the first place it falsely supposes that those two sins belong to different species within the genus of infidelity, whereas we have said above that those two sins can differ in species for a different reason, insofar as one who denies the veracity of God offends against reverence due to God through mental or external blasphemy and to that extent sins not only against faith, but also against religion, a virtue which is not always offended against by him who denies actual revelation - for such a one sins only against faith; but insofar as they are opposed to faith, they do not differ in species, but only in respect of greater or lesser gravity within the same species. Hence, in due proportion, the same is to be said of one who errs against the authority of the Church, for although one who denies this authority offends the Church more than one who, while conceding it, culpably denies something to be proposed by the Church, these two sins, nevertheless, do not differ in species insofar as they come under the heading of infidelity; but if they differ, it will be insofar as they are considered under another heading - that of special contempt and irreverence towards the Church.
For this reason I added that the example in question is not relevant to the issue, and indeed can be turned back upon him who employs it because, if denial of the truthfulness of God differs by species within the genus of infidelity from denial of revelation alone, it would have to be said that the sin of one who denies the authority of the Church differs in species from the sin of one who denies only a definition or proposal made by the Church, because the latter does not deny the infallible authority of the Church in proposing. But then we can reduce our question to the sins of two individuals, of whom one believes and admits the authority of the Church in proposing, but the other knowingly denies such and such an article to be proposed by the Church. When we say "knowingly" we do not mean by simultaneously believing that it is proposed, for this would be impossible at the same time as dissenting from it, but we mean having such motives for believing it to be proposed that he could deny this only through imprudence: but the other, denies the same thing, but through culpable ignorance, not attending to the motives which he could easily find whereby it would be made proximately credible to him that the proposal was made by the Church. So let us compare the sin of each party. All are agreed that the first is a heretic, because he pertinaciously denies an article proposed by the Church and the proposal of which by the Church is evidently credible to him - which suffices for pertinacity and heresy, as we have seen above, as he is ignorant of none of those things which are required for him to accept the proposal of the Church. But the second is not a heretic in the opinion of Hurtado, nor in our own, because he rejects the proposal of the Church on account of ignorance; and yet neither of them denies the authority of the Church, but both deny the proposal of the Church: therefore the sin of a heretic does not differ always from the sin of one who errs through ignorance depending on whether the authority of the Church be denied or not denied. The same argument can be used in the example brought forward by Hurtado, for which reason I have said that it can be turned back on him, for although it is true that the sin of one who denies the truthfulness of God is specifically different, from the point of view of infidelity, from the sin of one who denies the fact of revelation alone, nonetheless this difference is not found between the sins of two persons, of whom neither denies the veracity of God, but both deny the fact of revelation, the one doing so through culpable ignorance, and the other without it [i.e. in full knowledge]; of these, the first would lose the habit of infused faith, whereas the second would not lose it and consequently only the second sin would be infidelity properly so called - and in this case the difference could not be derived from the different objects denied, as neither would be denying the truthfulness of God, but both would be denying the facts of revelation alone.
Translated by J. S. Daly
In Christ our King.