Are all questions on Examinations of Conscience mortal sins?


I am a new Catholic, and am still somewhat confused about what constitutes a mortal sin. I know the 3 conditions, but I’m confused about exactly what are grave sins. I have read a few Examination of Consciences. Are all the questions on there related to mortal sins?:confused:


1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

All offenses against the Ten Commandments are not objectively mortal sins. Stealing a piece of candy is likely not a mortal sin as it is not grave matter.



This form of question appears from time to time, particularly from new Catholics. We have had people ask for a complete list of mortal sins!

Rest assured, that with practicing the sacrament and living as a Catholic, you will learn the mortal sins. Each of us is only prone to a small number of mortal sins (if any) so we learn the principles which apply to our own inclinations.

Never be afraid to just confess what you did, and then ask the priest for advice on whether it was a mortal sin.

And no, examinations of conscience include both mortal and venial sins. Some of these examinations highlight the potentially mortal sins in bold, or include words such as “grave matter” to indicate that transgression may be (or always is) mortal.


There is no set examination of conscience; they can vary wildly. While it’s theoretically possible that some contain only mortal sins, even that seems unlikely. Here are some possibly helpful Catechism quotes:

[quote=Catechism paragraph #1858]Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Truthfully, that may not help so much since stealing a penny is probably not grave. Here is a more insightful paragraph on lying, that may help you discern degree…

[quote=Catechism paragraph #2484]The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

If you replace lying with just about any sin, you can see that you will have to do an independent analysis, discerning the circumstances, your intent, the harm, the degree it transgresses the divine law of love, etc.

[quote=Catechism paragraph #2352]By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

So here’s an example of one sin that is always gravely disordered (i.e., grave matter). The Catechism is careful to point out that subjective guilt here may be very low since the other requirements for mortal sin may be lacking.

Jimmy Akin, a lead apologist (defender of the faith) here at Catholic Answers, begins to address the matter: I hope some of these ideas help. God bless, and welcome to the church!


Thanks for the help everyone!


No they are often not all grave matters. There can be venial matters listed together with grave matters.


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