Conditional consent and mortal sin

If consent to commit a grave sin is conditional or situational, could that still be mortal (assuming there is full knowledge)?

For example: A man is tempted to steal a fancy car. He says, “If the car door is open, then I’m going to steal that car.” He consents to sin, and goes to check if the car is open. It’s locked. He wanted to steal it and intended to, but he didn’t force his way to do it.

Did he commit a mortal sin? Should he confess before receiving communion?:confused:

What complicates the scenario for me is the man could have stolen the car by breaking in, but he didn’t.

He is certainly guilty of covetousness for seriously dwelling on such a theft plan and should confess.

Remember three things in moral theology:
1.) Act
2.) Intent
3.) Circumstance

In your scenario, he has bad intent. Thus it is always wrong. So if your intent is bad, even if the act is good, then you can’t perform the act.

For you to commit an act without sin, you must perform a non-sinful act & have good intent.

Circumstance gets more complicated. But I’d explore that as well if you like.

Kindly - James


  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?


One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?


One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

The fact that the person does not carry out the external act due to being prevented --does not remove the mortal sin.

The fact that a person even repents prior to the external action does not remove the fact that they committed a mortal sin interiorly already. It is good the repented of course and they are now heading the right direction…(and the sin would be worse if they did it externally)

They choose something that was grave matter with full knowledge and deliberate consent.

Now a person in temptation can be a different matter…one must not confuse temptation with consent.

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