Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXV.: OF FLATTERY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXV.: OF FLATTERY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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§ 1. To praise another is a thing that may be done well or ill, according as due circumstances are observed or neglected. For if one wishes to give pleasure by praising, thereby to console the person that he fail not in tribulation, or also that he may be eager to advance in good, if other due circumstances are observed, this will be part of the aforesaid virtue of friendliness. But it will be a piece of flattery, if one will praise another on points on which he ought not to have praise, either because they are evil things, according to the text, “The sinner is praised in the desires of his soul,”1 or because they are uncertainties, as it is said, “Praise not a man before he speaketh;”2 and again, “Praise not a man for his look;”3 or again, if there be fear of his being moved by human praise to vainglory, hence it is said: “Praise not any man before death.”4
Article II.—Is flattery a mortal sin?
R. That is a mortal sin, which is contrary to charity. Now flattery is sometimes contrary to charity, and sometimes not. There are three ways in which it may be contrary to charity. One is in virtue of the matter praised, when one praises another’s sin: for this is contrary to the love of God, being an impugning of His justice, and contrary also to the love of your neighbour, whom you foster and encourage in his sin. Another way is in virtue of the intention of him who praises, when one flatters another in order fraudulently to hurt him either in body or in soul: this again is a mortal sin, and of it there is said, “Better are the wounds of a friend than the deceitful kisses of an enemy.”5 The third way is in virtue of the occasion given, when the flatterer’s praise becomes to the other an occasion of sin, even beside the intention of the flatterer. And here we must consider whether the occasion be given or taken, and what is the nature of the ruin that follows, as in the case of what was said above of scandal.1 But if the motive of the flattery is mere eagerness to give pleasure, or to avoid some evil, or to get something in a case of need, it is not against charity, and therefore not a mortal but a venial sin.
[1 ]Psalm ix. 24.
[2 ]Ecclus. xxviii. 8.
[3 ]Ecclus xi. 2.
[4 ]Ecclus. xi. 20.
[5 ]Prov. xxvii. 6.
[1 ]II-II. q. 43. art. 3.