Cashier selling condoms at store... Accomplice to evil? Sin?

Hi all. :slight_smile:

LokisMom back again with another interesting question.

Excited yet?

Good. You should be.

There’s been a lot of talk here lately concerning accomplice to evil. And I was just wondering how far this mentality goes here on CAF.

Do yall think it would it be a sin for a Catholic to be a cashier at a grocery store/convenience store/gas station/pharmacy and thus play a role in the sale of condoms?? Would a Catholic in the position have a moral responsibility to not get a job at such places or if they did, to get someone else to ring up the condoms when they come through the line? Or is it ok since they are merely the worker who rings up items being bought?

I once quit my job over precisely this issue. I had been working at a retail job where condoms were not sold. Several months in, condoms were introduced into the store, and I asked to be given tasks other than register work. One day they told me to cover the register, but I wouldn’t ring up the condoms a customer wanted to buy, so my boss rang it up for me. She told me if that ever happened again I could just call someone else over to ring up the product, which was really a generous attempt at accommodating me considering how silly that sounds and how she didn’t really share my values on that point. (I have no hard feelings against her, she was really sweet and tried to accommodate me.)

But I was not satisfied with that arrangement, I felt like I had still facilitated that purchase. One reason I thought that was, I don’t think there is much difference between ringing up the order myself and calling someone else over to ring up one thing.

Anyway, I said I couldn’t work there anymore if there was a chance that a similar situation could arise in the future. So I quit.

At least you gave the option to use another cashier. I think most people would not expect another person to violate their religious beliefs. As long as another option is there, most people would be fine. Calling over another cashier seems like a reasonable compromise.

I worked at an SDA college (outside of the US) and they did not sell pork products or caffeinated products on campus. The majority of the staff were not seventh day adventists but we did not ask the administrators to violate their beliefs. There was always the option of going off campus for lunch.

Since the tooic has been brought up I’m going to jump in with a similar question. I’m protestant and have always wondered about this. How does the Catholic Church stand on people involved on both sides of the aisle who vote against the Church’s teaching…for example pro-life?

I hope it was okay with the op that I added my question here, too.

God bless!



This question and similar ones have been discussed many times on CAF. The questions are generally analysed by assessing whether the individual (concerned about the morality of their act) provided “Material” cooperation or “Formal” cooperation for the wrong act (in this case, the use of condoms for an illicit purpose).

Here is one article you could read:

The topic is different but the principles are set out.
See also:

Very interesting, thank you! :slight_smile:

It most certainly is an being an accomplice to evil to sell someone condoms. It would be partaking in evil, mortal sin.

The moral principles to look at are those dealing with cooperation with evil, namely formal, material, immediate, remote, etc.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a high level chart:

In considering the morality of such a situation, one would apply these moral principles in forming one’s conscience and deciding how to act.

Yes, but the question is, would it be remote cooperation in evil or proximate cooperation in evil? It is my understanding that you are not required to abstain in all cases from remote cooperation in evil. And I think it is only reasonable that the cooperation in this case is remote. Perhaps the sin is not in buying the condoms, but in using them during sex. And I think selling someone condoms is definitely a few steps removed from that.

So if someone is a cashier at a Walmart and a customer comes by with their groceries, including a box of condoms, it would be a mortal sin for you to ring them up?

Cool, thanks!

This is a great point that I hadn’t thought of. You never know, maybe they are going to use the condoms for water balloons or to play a prank on someone. Neither of those things are sinful, and you have no way of knowing if thats what they are going to be used for or not.

Not so easy to apply that chart. What answer do you get applying it to a Walmart cashier? Did the Walmart cashier “supply” the material? Or is the only person who did that the one who bought it in the service of the principal agent?

In my opinion, the Wal-Mart cashier ringing up condoms is the equivalent of a county clerk handing out marriage licenses and/or recording them in his/her records. The clerk cannot say “I will not record marriages that weren’t done in accordance with the canon of the Catholic Church” nor can he/she refuse marriage licenses to homosexual couples in states that recognize such a union as “marriage”. The sin is committed by the one purchasing the condoms for sex or by the couple seeking an adulterous/homosexual “marriage”. Seriously.

I would consider it a “near-remote” cooperation in evil. A fully remote cooperation in evil is the paying of taxes to a government that promotes abortion - we must pay taxes, and have no choice how our tax dollars are used once they are collected (though we can protest, vote in pro-life candidates, etc.). In this “near-remote” case, one’s job requirements require us to sell an item/provide a service to people which is not in accordance to one’s beliefs. The person with the job does the job to feed his/her family, and could (depending on management) lose his/her job if he/she refuses to sell the item/provide the service, which could hinder the person’s ability to provide for his/her family. Free will is diminished to the point of really not having it. As such, though the person is able to partially see the evil that he/she is cooperating in, he/she often has little choice but to cooperate in it, mitigating responsibility.

No. There’s a very thorough explanation to that question by Catholic Answers apologist Jimmy Akin here.

Rita, the Catholic Church diametrically opposes when a lawmaker votes in a way that is contrary to Church teaching, such as a vote in favor of abortion/pro-choice/pro-“women’s right”/whatever you care to call it.

Bishops have publicly stated that these people are not to receive communion, as their vote constitutes self-excommunication. (Of course, this only applies to a legislator who professes to be Catholic; telling a non-Catholic that he/she is not to receive communion isn’t even applicable to that person since he/she has never been receiving Communion in the Catholic Church to begin with.)

Yes, the Catholic Church is very serious about this. And, a lawmaker who votes in favor of a sin-condoning law is a lot closer to enabling sin than a cashier at a store who rings up condoms at the register.

As a cashier, you are not enabling somebody to commit sin.
The owner of the store, however, is committing a sin by selling such merchandise.

Interesting, didn’t know there’s a chart like that.

I don’t get some of the points. Remote - makes a contribution to the act that does not lead… if it doesn’t lead to the commission, why would there be even remote cooperation (if it’s totally unrelated)?

The Akin explanation is excellent. The Philadelphia chart is best forgotten IMHO.

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