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A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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FORCE

In moral theology that which proceeds from some agent outside the victim whose will is opposed to it. It is the same thing as violence and implies an external agent and resistance on the part of the victim. Consequently no one can, properly speaking, apply force or inflict violence on himself or herself. As a basic rule, force can affect external acts only, not the internal acts of the will. It follows, then, that internal acts are morally imputable no matter how much violence a person has to endure; external acts performed under compulsion are not imputed, provided the individual has withheld internal consent.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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