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Hatred in general is a vehement aversion entertained by one person for another, or for something more or less identified with that other. Theologians commonly mention two distinct species of this passion.

  • One ( odium abominationis , or loathing) is that in which the intense dislike is concentrated primarily on the qualities or attributes of a person, and only secondarily, and as it were derivatively, upon the person himself.
  • The second sort ( odium inimicitiae , or hostility) aims directly at the person, indulges a propensity to see what is evil and unlovable in him, feels a fierce satisfaction at anything tending to his discredit, and is keenly desirous that his lot may be an unmixedly hard one, either in general or in this or that specified way.

This second kind of hatred, as involving a very direct and absolute violation of the precept of charity, is always sinful and may be grievously so. The first-named species of hatred, in so far as it implies the reprobation of what is actually evil, is not a sin and may even represent a virtuous temper of soul. In other words, not only may I, but I even ought to, hate what is contrary to the moral law. Furthermore one may without sin go so far in the detestation of wrongdoing as to wish that which for its perpetrator is a very well-defined evil, yet under another aspect is a much more signal good. For instance, it would be lawful to pray for the death of a perniciously active heresiarch with a view to putting a stop to his ravages among the Christian people. Of course, it is clear that this apparent zeal must not be an excuse for catering to personal spite or party rancour. Still, even when the motive of one's aversion is not impersonal, when, namely, it arises from the damage we may have sustained at the hands of others, we are not guilty of sin unless besides feeling indignation we yield to an aversion unwarranted by the by the hurt we have suffered. This aversion may be grievously or venially sinful in proportion to its excess over that which the injury would justify.

When by any conceivable stretch of human wickedness God Himself is the object of hatred the guilt is appallingly special. If it be that kind of enmity ( odium inimicitiae ) which prompts the sinner to loathe God in Himself, to regret the Divine perfections precisely in so far as they belong to God, then the offence committed obtains the undisputed primacy in all the miserable hierarchy of sin. In fact, such an attitude of mind is fairly and adequately described as diabolical; the human will detaches itself immediately from God ; in other sins it does so only mediately and by consequence, that is, because of its inordinate use of some creature it is averted from God. To be sure, according to the teaching of St. Thomas ( II-II:24:12 ) and the theologians, any mortal sin carries with it the loss of the habit of supernatural charity, and implies so to speak a sort of virtual and interpretive hatred of God, which, however, is not a separate specific malice to be referred to in confession, but only a circumstance predicable of every grievous sin.


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