Can God's True Church commit sin?


Just wondering about your opinions to this. I guess the easy answer is “no” but individuals within the church can…

I am looking towards more of accountability of the church. Can the RCC sin?

For instance, if it was 1955 and my Parish told me it was OK to eat meat on Friday - would that be the “church” sinning? This example is hypothetical but what if it happened. Would it again just be the “priest” who said it be sinning?

Hopefully you understand my position and I am curious as to opinions.


You’re right. The easy answer is no, but individuals can. Your “for instance” isn’t a case of the Church sinning. If you’re speaking of a parish priest, it would depend, if he were attempting to mislead you, and he knew it to be false, perhaps it would be a sin. If he truly thought it was alright, he’s not sinning, simply mistaken. If you’re not speaking of the priest, how can a “Parish” tell you something?


I’ll give you a more recent example if you’d like? Say today in 2007, a parish priest, or some parishoners, or some Catholic, told you that it was perfectly alright to eat meat on Fridays, that there was absolutely no difference between Friday and any other day of the week, and that there was absolutely nothing we’re required to do on Friday. They would be wrong, not sinning, unless of course they understood the true teaching of the Church, then perhaps it would be sin. Again it would be the individual sinning, not the Church.


I see your point - that is a good example. Lets expand on that if we could. Was it not a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays at one point? (before Vatican II perhaps). If it was, what happened to those who ate meat on Friday? Well, if it was a Mortal sin they went to Hell.

Now - it is no longer a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays. So, someone can eat meat on Fridays and not go to Hell. Is that just for the person who went to Hell previously for eating meat on a Friday?

That being the case… did the church sin in either:
1)telling us it was a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays;
2)telling us it is no longer a sin to eat meat on Fridays.

Or was it just mistaken? How could God’s True Church error in its teaching regardless if it is a tradition, dogmas, doctrince or what have you?


For instance; if I could establish that not paying back your debts was a sin; would the RCC be sinning by filing bankruptcy?

I am aware of

For hypothetical discussion - until I can prove it :wink: - would the church be sinning?


I think you may be forgetting that the church is made up of humans. Since all humans sin then hence the CC can sin.:shrug:

Hopefully less then the general population:thumbsup: :wink:


I think ALLFORHIM nailed it. Asking if the Church as an entity can “sin” doesn’t really make sense. Sin applies to individual people.

This was a major issue of the Protestant Reformation and preceding heresies from the likes of Wyclif and Hus. They basically taught that those committing mortal sin were not members of the Church.


It really is a question of obedience.

The true Church of Christ is perfect, so no the Church cannot sin.
The members leave something to be desired so often people will look at the sins of people and judge the Church.

Now abstaining from meat is a discipline used to remember Christ’s Sacrifice for us on Friday. This is just like a father setting a curfew for his daughter. At a certain point in her life it is wrong for her to get home at 10PM at a certain point in her life there is no problem.

As a discipline the sin would not be in eating the meat, it would be in deliberately disobeying the Church in preference to not remember Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross.
So yes it would be a sin to deliberately deny respecting Christ’s death on the Cross in the 1960’s and it would be a sin to do so now by not remembering Christ’s Sacrifice today in a different way.

The sin is in the disobedience and denial of Christ.

The Church can not sin, but people can do evil things in the name of the Church such as kill people, and not pay back debts. This is an administrative action which many times can be wrong or just plain stupid. Kinda like Peter making a mistake in administration, he might sin or do something wrong it doesn’t change Christ’s teaching.

God Bless


Comparing earthly marriage between man and woman to Christ’s love for His Church, St. Paul teaches:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5 25-27)

So, if the Church is who she claims to be, the Bride of Christ, then, no, she can not sin. She has been made, by Christ Himself, to be “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

For instance, if it was 1955 and my Parish told me it was OK to eat meat on Friday - would that be the “church” sinning? This example is hypothetical but what if it happened. Would it again just be the “priest” who said it be sinning?

I don’t know much about your experience with the Catholic Church or various “Parishes,” but generally speaking a Catholic parish does not “tell” people things in the way you are asserting. Priests do. Deacons do. Catechists do, etc. These teachers and leaders can and often do speak in concert, but they are responsible as individuals for their teaching among the flock (see 2 Peter 2).

I’m not entirely sure I understand your question, though. Are you asking: if a particular parish, or group of people, followed the “it’s okay to eat meat on Friday” teaching of a priest, would each individual be culpable for that disobedience or is only the priest culpable?

If this is your question and I have understood it correctly, the answer is: it depends.

I imagine it is POSSIBLE, within a large parish, that there are those people who, through no fault of their own, could possibly be ignorant of certain universal teachings. One example would be a child, within the age of resposibility for observing fasts and abstinances, who has never been taught correctly nor who has the means or maturity to seek proper instruction. This person could be completely inculpable for the objective disobedience of not observing the Friday ordinances.

However, I think this measure of innocence is quite rare. Often times, people, fully knowing or at least with some idea of the universal teachings of the Church, actually seek affirmation for disobediences they intend to commit. And, as Scripture clearly warns, there are swarms of false teachers who would readily mislead the flock for their own purposes. Some do so neglectfully, as St. Paul warns: **When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.(1 Corinthians 8:12-13)**Some do so for their own purposes, causing others to be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:14)
But, in any case, if a teacher knowingly causes someone to stumble, they will be held responsible for their teachings, for as the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes: Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. (Hebrews 13:17)

Now, if a particular priest actually commanded his parish flock to disobey a universal church teaching, one would think that the full weight of his treachery would fall upon him. But, this is such an unlikely predicament especially with the relatively quick reporting and response to disobediences and the wide accessibility to truth we have in this modern world.

With today’s climate of information technology, it is quite unlikely that someone could grow up Catholic, with proper catechesis, and have no clue what the Church really teaches or at least how to find it out. Thus, even with a wayward nod from a priest, a person disobeying a teaching from which she is seeking an excuse would be responsible for her own sin of disobedience. For, as St. Paul also teaches: So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)


Thanks for the responses.

To clarify; can a Catechism contain error?


What kind of error are you talking about?


Not typo’s or the like. Basically any instruction of any sort from the church to the reader.


Like what?


The entire content of revelation from God will always be handed down infallibly so all men of every era can have access to it.

The Catechism is an explanation of that truth, as well as an application of it to various issues of our day.


Going back a bit, malachi, ‘eating meat on Friday’ was not the sin. Willful disobedience to the church’s DISCIPLINE which had established ‘not eating meat on Friday’ as a penitential practice was the sin.

If, as society evolves, every human being became a vegetarian, then a prohibition on ‘not eating meat on Friday as a penitential practice’ would make no sense, and would most certainly be abrogated. Not because the original decision was wrong either. And most certainly the responsibility of indiviuals to do penance has not disappeared.


This I do not total grasp/agree with. If the Catechism said one cannot eat meat of Friday and than further explained that in doing so one would commit a Mortal Sin - ultimately I believe the instruction of what to do or not to do is relavant.

i.e. RCC says using birth Control is a sin. Lets say 2012 it says it isn’t. Then the person “doing the act of using BC” commits sin in the first instance but not the second. How can the church change it’s mind of what sin is?

I am sure in debating circles this must have a name for it - like straw man (example), slippery slope (another example) circular reasoning or whatever :slight_smile:

Eg. Willfully refusing baptism/communion. Is the sin in the refusal to receive baptism/communion or the willfulness in disobeying the church?


What is the process for establishing or repealing disciplines? Is it solely under the Popes authority?


I do think your issue is a matter of not grasping. Of course, you may also not agree, but that does not seem to be the root of your problem at this point.

Let me help you. You must first understand the nature of a general instruction. There are instructions which are based on theological truths. These would include Christ as true God and true man, the Trinity, the Real Presence, etc. There are other instruction which are based on natural law and moral law. These would include issues pertaining to self-preservation, sanctity of life, sexuality, etc. Then, there are instructions which are based on disciplinary statutes. This would include celibacy, food observances, holy days, etc.

i.e. RCC says using birth Control is a sin. Lets say 2012 it says it isn’t. Then the person “doing the act of using BC” commits sin in the first instance but not the second. How can the church change it’s mind of what sin is?

First, the constant and consistent Judeo-Christian traditional teaching opposing all forms of contraception is not based on an alterable disciplinary statute. There have always been contraceptive techniques which ranged from abortive to sterilizing, from barrier to chemical. The people of God, throughout history, have distinguished themselves by their adherence to God’s sovereignty and his Divine order for life. Throughout 2000 years of Christianity, the people of God have always based the teaching about contraception on an understanding of God’s order and moral law. The Church’s teachings, as an extension of Divine revelation, have not and will not change on this subject. To suppose a change in the teaching on contraception could occur would be like supposing that the Church could one day change her teaching on homosexuality.

To compare contraception with abstaining from meat on Fridays is like comparing murder with women’s head coverings.

I am sure in debating circles this must have a name for it - like straw man (example), slippery slope (another example) circular reasoning or whatever :slight_smile:

I’m not privy to all “debating circles,” but I think the phrase would be “comparing apples to oranges.”

Eg. Willfully refusing baptism/communion. Is the sin in the refusal to receive baptism/communion or the willfulness in disobeying the church?

This is a more complex issue than either abstaining from meat or contraception.

Baptism and the Eucharist are Sacraments, given to us by Christ Himself. These are signs of Christ’s grace at work. To willfully deny a Sacrament with full knowledge is to refuse the movement of grace in your life.

One, with full knowledge of the truth, beauty and efficacy of the Sacraments, who refuses them would not only be disobeying the Church, but sinning against God Himself.

Once again, it seems as if you can not discern the difference between the nature of certain general instructions. I would encourage you to read a few pages pertaining to this topic. For starters: (on church discipline) (on natural law) (on divine revelation) (on abstaining from certain foods) (on contraception) (on the Sacraments)


Ecclesiastical disciplines may be based on a papal proclamation or the affirmed recommendation of a synod or council. Certain disciplines can be dispensed by local authorities as well. I am not a canon lawyer, but I suppose the easy answer is: it depends.


Our children share our nature,they are human beings because we are.

Jesus shares His Fathers nature, He is God because the Father is God.

Jesus also shares His mothers nature,He is human because she is human.

All of us have one nature we are human.

Jesus has two natures He is both human and Divine. because of His parents.

And because Jesus is **one **with His Church His Church is both human and Divine.

We make up the body of His Church that is the human part.

Jesus being one with His Church, and the Holy Spirit guiding it. That is the Divine part.

The human part that makes up the church sins. The church is like a hospital for the sick (sinners). Does someone who is healthy go to the hospital for care?

The **Divine part **is infallible, which means–

**in·fal·li·ble ** Pronunciation [in-fal-uh-buhl] Pronunciation


1. absolutely trustworthy or sure: an infallible rule.
2. unfailing in effectiveness or operation; certain: an infallible remedy.
3. not fallible; exempt from liability to error, as persons, their judgment, or pronouncements: an infallible principle.
4. Roman Catholic Church. immune from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith or morals by virtue of the promise made by Christ to the Church.
Ephesians 5:31
31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." **32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. **

We are members(arm,leg,fingers) of His Body
Romans 12:4
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Ephesians 5:30
for we are members of his body.

So to answer your question does the Body of Christ sin?


Do the sinners who make up the Body of Christ sin?


Mark 2:17
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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