catholic guilt


our daughter has lived on east & west coasts. All she ever hears are “funny comments” about “that catholic guilt” So many say it that I want to know what they mean by that.


I can only speak for myself. I was a child prior to Vatican II and my education until college was Catholic. God was a God of judgment then(now). I was(am) acutely conscious of my sins and acutely aware that if I died without going to confession, I was(am) bound for hell. As one of the brothers who taught me said, conscience is from the Latin “con scientia” - with knowledge. We KNOW we have done wrong. Conscience was “formed” back then. The priests, nuns, and brothers who taught my generation worked diligently on the formation of conscience. And, at least for me, they suceeded. I am acutely aware of when I have sinned.

Everyone is aware of Jimmy Carter’s remarks about having lust in his soul. Although he isn’t Catholic, that is a prime example of Catholic guilt - he didn’t do anything; he just thought about it.

There has been a paradigm shift in the Church since VII. God has become a God of mercy not judgment.


Even though there is a caricature of Catholicism that is in fashion as guilt ridden, legalistic, etc etc, often this is just pure bigotry, never based on true Catholic belief.

Nowdays guilt is thought of as a bad thing, for some crazy reason we are taught that we are not supposed to feel guilty.

This is common to the common belief that sin doesn’t matter, which relates to what C.S. Lewis once wrote, "The greatest trick the devil has ever pulled is convincing the world that he doesn’t exist"
Or as we now can apply it, one of the greatest thrills that Satan has achieved is the notion that sin doesn’t matter and that guilt is bad.

Guilt, as long as it is properly formed is our concience reacting negatively to something wrong we have done. Now improperly formed would either have us not noticing evil or feeling guilty for actions that are not wrong.

Some people have been taught a little to zealously on sin and have become scrupulous because of it, feeling guilty for almost every action that possible could be wrong. Nowdays though we have swung so much the other way that many feel nothing as they sin away, no desire for repentance or turning to God.

Conciences need to be properly formed and if I reject God then feeling guilty should be the effect, and a desire for repentance and turning to God should be the result.

God Bless


It’s a way to mock the teachings of the Church so as to feel free to go against them.


The Church hasn’r changed, just the teaching of some people/theologians. That doesn’t mean God is no longer a God of Justice as many will discover when the face the Judgment Seat.

St Faustina told us that if we do not throw ourselves on God’s Mercy we will have to face His Justice.

Psychologists have tried to do away with sin altogether and without an acknowledgment of sin we will feel no guilt. Sin has been rationalised away which can be seen where Catholics receive Communion Sunday after Sunday but only go to Confession, to be reconciled with God, once or twice a year.


Guilt is not a Catholic phenomenon. Guilt means that our conscience is bothered. Where we go from there is important. Sin begets sin. When we sin (venial) we are not necessarily turning our backs on God, but turning ever so slightly away. Sin builds up, then pretty soon we look back and realize, wow! look how far away I’ve turned from God. (speaking still of venial sin). We have to constantly orient ourselves towards God. I find that when I commit sin that an instant prayer is the best way to turn back in the right direction. Keep our focus on God! More serious sin (mortal) is a deliberate turning your back on God, with our free will deciding that we are going to commit this sin. Being steeped in venial sin makes this easier because we are already turned slightly away from God already. I hope this wasn’t too wordy. Father Bob on ‘Web of Faith’ used this example the other night (much more eloquently, however)


Well, yours truly is more than aware of this. My conscience is firmly pre-VII. I have not and will not receive the Eucharist unworthy. But this is precisely what is meant by Catholic guilt. Bottom line is thatn a good Catholic will not recieve the Eucharist unworthily. Domine, non sum dignus. And those who receive it worthily are humbled by it.

And, with respect, I heard “fire and brimstone” homilys when I was a child. I haven’t heard one since my childhood and I am now 55. God is a God of mercy today. He is not the God of judgment of my youth.


We need some more of this guilt!


The young priest at our parish condemned abortion this morning for the second time in one month, more than I have previously heard in one year at other parishes.

He hits hard and doesn’t pussy-foot around. He calls black, black, white, white and sin, sin. Wow. He must have read Pope JPII tell that to the youth in one of the countries he visited, Spain I think…

I heard he is so politically incorrect that a couple of older priests tried to get him in for some ‘psychological counselling’. He replied that unless the bishop required it of him, forget it.


We had an older, retired priest say our Saturday vigil mass tonight. He gave us a fire and brimstone sermon on serious sin. We were told that if we don’t throw ourselves on God’s mercy now by going to confession, we will have to face God’s justice after we die, and if we die in serious sin, we go to hell. Whew! Was I ever glad I went to confession right before mass! Sermons like that kind of make you want to go to confession every week!


Wow, two of you with priests giving fire and brimstone homilies. The last one I heard was back in 1983 and it was about abortion. I’ve been to several parish retreats and choir retreats and have never heard one. Now Mother Angelica was one to call a spade a spade.



Hello and welcome to the Catholic Answers Forums. I hope you have a blessed and fruitful time here.

“Catholic guilt” is the result of the Catholic Church’s refusal to soft-pedal her opposition to sin. Sin is evil, and the person who sins does evil to himself and to others. Many other churches have declared certain sinful acts to be acceptable or else turn a blind eye to it. “Catholic guilt” is the pejorative term that non-Catholics use to describe the Catholic Church’s lack of compromise on this subject.

Incidentally, the Catholic Church is also condemned regularly for not taking sin seriously. “All you have to do,” say the naysayers, “is go to confession and then do some light penance, and bingo! your sin is gone.” Sometimes it’s even the same person who will condemn the Church for inducing “Catholic guilt” and then turn around and condemn the Church for not taking sin seriously enough.

  • Liberian


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