Are we held responsible for the consequences of our actions?

There are a few parts to this question that have stemmed from a conversation that I’ve recently had in regards to abortion.

The claim is that if a woman is so emotionally distraught from a rape situation that she feels compelled to have an abortion performed, that the guilt of the operation - lies on the rapist.

Just War got brought into the mix here as well. The claim was that the merits of a Just War should be merritted on the consequences of the war and that any evils or sins committed during that war (killing for example) should be placed on the backs of the authorities that called for the war.

In like manner, if someone decides to rob a store and because they rob the store, the man who owns the store can no longer pay for medicine that was helping his son. His son inadvertently dies due to these implications. Is the man who robbed the store inadvertantly responsible for murder?

The culpability may be mitigated by someones mental or emotion state. More pertinently, we may be the recipients or victims of the results of our actions. If I get drunk and go walking on the freeway, the consequences of my actions are on me (i.e. my responsibility) not anyone else, but the actual consequences may leave me paralyzed or dead. Perhaps I lost a loved one and so my culpability for getting drunk is lessened, but I will still be paralyzed or dead as a result.

In the case of someone who dies as the result of a crime (or sin) the person committing the crime is certainly culpable for anything resulting from their crime.

For a real life example, if someone sets a bomb on a sidewalk timed to go off at the end of a race, he is culpable for murder for any 8 year old children or anyone else that are killed even if they claim they didn’t know who would be in that spot.

, that is the whole concept of being an accomplice is about.

Well, yes, we are held responsible for the consequences of our actions.

But, it seems that circumstances would dictate to what degree we are held.

This is why we are taught to not judge others, Because only God truly knows what is in their heart.

Yet we all judge ourselves to some degree. Sometimes we excuse our bad actions to avoid feeling responsible - a dangerous path as we are lying to ourselves and the next lie becomes easier. Other times we are too severe on ourselves - scrupulosity can be a sin.

A great reason for being Catholic is that we have easy access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We can admit our sin, express our remorse, and receive God’s forgiveness. Then we can get on with making proper restitution.

In a homily I heard once, the priest said the reason there are two judgments–one immediately when we die and one general judgment at the end–is that our live can continue to produce good or rotten fruit until the end of time. At the final judgment, all will be made manifest. He used St. Benedict as an example of good, and how to this day many follow and are sanctified by his rule and example.

The example, right now, is Holier Than Thou, Josh Duggar, who got away with molesting his sisters with no consequences, UP UNTIL NOW!:thumbsup:

The Church teaches (but not in these words) that all evil acts cause bad karma to arise that will cause us suffering after death.

If we have repented we will see heaven but the karma is still active and still has to be paid back - hence purgatory for a certain time.

However, if our repentance is perfect, God shields us from the karma we still deserve by a pure gift on His part (thru application of the merits of Jesus who lovingly takes your karma on himself instead and suffers in your place).

Alternatively, if repentence is imperfect, the Church makes certain indulgences available to its faithful (on meeting certain conditions) which can also redeem you from your rightfully deserved suffering and karma.

Karma is proportional to our degree of freedom involved in any grave sin.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit