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Esteem, reverence, or honorable regard. In the New Testament this attitude is frequently recommended as desirable among Christians in general, and special emphasis is assigned to it with reference to those in authority. James is vigorously opposed to the undue deference given to the rich man by the rest of the Christian community, perhaps because he noted in his time that the primitive democracy of the spirit taught in the Acts of the Apostles and alluded to in St. Paul was disappearing.

Moral theologians speak of respect with reference to persons of outstanding goodness and dignity, and as a part of the virtue of piety which involves reverence to family and country. Thus it is associated more with justice and the external respect seasonably accruing to persons, than to charity, which involves an attitude of love based on divine goodness and kinship with God.

Respect is concerned positively with the exhibition of appropriate signs of respect and negatively with the avoidance of discourtesy, offensive words, and actions which would have the effect of dishonoring another. Normally, offenses of this type would be considered of slight moral importance. However, on the grounds that honor and dishonor are to be estimated in terms of the dignity of the one so treated, it is possible that disrespect could be serious. The more common type of disrespect in modern society appears in the inhuman attitude of employers to employees and of racial groups for one another.

See Also: piety, familial.

Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa theologiae 2a2ae, 102. f. roberti et al., comps., Dictionary of Moral Theology, ed. p. palazzini et al., tr. h. j. yannone et al. from 2d Ital. ed. (Westminster, Md. 1962).

[w. herbst]

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