The cardinal virtue of justice enables one to give to each, beginning with God, what is due to them. It perfects our will and all our relationships with others, including family, country, and Church. It is the constant and firm will to give to each what is his due. The virtue disposes us to respect the rights and dignity of others, leading to harmony and equality in human interactions. Justice toward God is the virtue of religion. The just Christian is motivated by charity—a sincere will to not only give to others what is their due but to will what is good for them.
The cardinal virtue of justice aims to perfect all our relationships. At our Baptism, our heavenly Father gave us this virtue to aid us in maintaining a balance. The sins against justice cause an imbalance or inequality in relationships. Like any virtue, justice must be guarded from sins. The following are some sins that need to be guarded against:
Each person has a right to a good reputation. A common way that we sin against justice is in speech.
- Defamation is openly taking away from one someone’s character—i.e., a false statement posted publicly.
- Detraction is privately taking from someone’s reputation.
- Gossip is conversing maliciously about a person.
- Ridicule is heaping insult publicly on another.
- Cursing is uttering evil against someone, either ordering it or wishing it.
St. Thomas Aquinas states there are four ways by which one can detract from another’s reputation:
- Attributing what is false to him
- Exaggerating his sins
- Exposing secrets
- Saying that good actions have been motivated by evil intentions